So Paul Banks (Banks) of Interpol and RZA (Steelz) of Wu-Tang come together in 2016 and release an album. Who saw this coming? I sure didn’t. Now I’m not complaining, I think Interpol is dope and I love early Wu, this release was just unexpected. RZA has been showing over the years that his interests vary widely outside of just hip-hop, but I had no idea that Paul Banks was into hip-hop. From what I’ve read, Anything But Words has been in the works for some three years now, so I had to check it out once it dropped.
Turn dreams to reality The king of principality Shines upon me The holy spirit shadows me I write songs for fun not for salary Used to collect guns now the truth is my cavalry But I gotta closet full just in case the project pulls some wicked bullshit
With Banks coming from a punk rock background and RZA coming from “hardcore” hip-hop, I expected there to be a darker sound to the production but I was sadly disappointed. I don’t know if it’s because they’re getting older and have been moving away from that, but I don’t think it was the right way to go with it. The production isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty good, it just could have been so much more interesting than the generic crossover rap it came across as. Sonically everything sounds great, RZA’s beats are sharp and clean, and Banks’ guitars and synths blend perfectly with the mix; it’s just missing that “edge” that made their separate works so dear to me. “Conceal”, “Point of View”, and “One By One” are probably my favorite songs off Anything But Words, and they also happen to be some of the darkest, slower burn tracks off the whole project.
I don’t needs these highs to raise me I don’t need these highs to lift me I don’t want your smiles to wake me I don’t think that I should slowly go Never ending trials I am facing I don’t want their wiles to mix me up I’m all fucked up today
Banks sounds good vocally, although I’d say he’s singing a few octaves higher than I’m used to hearing on the Interpol’s records. RZA however, has always been pretty cringe worthy when it comes to his vocals, his voice just isn’t a very good one and having to go through a whole album of it can be a chore. I think Anything But Words should have definitely leaned more heavily on Banks’ vocals and let RZA stay more behind the boards. And lyrically, I’ve got to be honest I’ve never once said, “You know what this tracks needs? A RZA verse.” The formula of Banks on the chorus, and RZA handling the verses doesn’t really change much throughout Anything But Words, with the exception of some guest features which is a much needed switch up. More Wu-Tang members and less RZA rapping would have made these songs so much better.
Have you heard Anything But Words? What did you think about it? Were you caught off guard by this collaboration? Were you expecting a darker sound? Let me know in the comments below and leave a rating for the album.
Anything But Words was an unexpected collaboration between two NY icons in Paul Banks of Interpol and RZA of Wu-Tang. While sonically everything sounds great, it's just too formulaic and pop leaning for it's own good. A missed opportunity on something that could have been a dark, gritty spectacle.