Paul Banks as alter ego Julian Plenti is all afterglow and hushed 3am phone calls. Late night murmurings on the usual trappings of city life and beautiful women with grit and glam to spare. On this Skyscraper, life is beautiful, if not murky and Codeine-hazed, but a pulse exists and allows the man behind the baritone to come forward, out of the formerly self-imposed ice storm. It’s a chill, more sincere world to inhabit for the Interpol frontman, as he reveals greater depth and imagination under the coldly suited, impenetrable veneer he is famous for. Skyscraper permits Banks/Plenti to convincingly shapeshift and groove on the wings of synths and strings and lovely things, and three cheers to that. The use of the old pseudonym is confounding considering his massive success with Interpol, but we’ll allow Banks the cloak on this vivid and mostly successful debut. Key tracks: “Only if You Run,” “Games for Days,” “Girl on the Sporting News” and “On the Esplanade.” (Matador) –Carrie Alison