PLAN B The Defamation of Strickland Banks CD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
PLAN B
The Defamation of Strickland Banks

 

Review Information

Reviewer: David Murcott
Review Date: October 2010

CD Information

Label: Atlantic

9.0

out of 10

 

 

He may look like a cross between a builder’s labourer and a soccer hooligan, but Plan B – Ben Drew on his driver’s licence – is possessed of a rare songwriting ability and an uncanny, almost freakish, ear for a hook. 

His first official album was preceded by a string of well-received singles and mixtapes, many of which featured the talented up-and-comer rapping over tracks by the likes of Radiohead and Nirvana.  The eventual debut, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words, reached #30 on the UK charts and stands as an intense blend of sublo distemper and streetwise, world-weary hip hop.  But becoming a rapper was never his initial intention, hence the moniker.  As Drew told USA Today in 2007: ‘The whole reason for calling myself Plan B was that I was doing this sweet-boy Justin Timberlake (stuff), but I never felt comfortable... When I started rapping, it was easier for me to feel comfortable.’ 

Drew’s sophomore studio release finds him unashamedly embracing his ‘sweet-boy Justin Timberlake’ side, and the results are stunning.  Not your average white boy soul, this is one of the most cogently convincing reinterpretations of the Motown sound in recent memory.  Written and for the most part produced by Drew, the album’s 13 tracks tell the story of one Strickland Banks, a fictitious soul singer with an adoring public (Love Goes Down) and a penchant for celebrating his success a little too hard (Stay Too Long).  Eventually Banks is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit (She Said) and winds up in prison by track five (Welcome to Hell), where he spends much of the remainder of the album (Traded in My Cigarettes; Darkest Place). 

The overarching theme ensures a real cohesion to the record, but the songs are so well-crafted that each more than stands on its own considerable merits.  She Said is perhaps the most powerful encapsulation of the new Plan B sound, blending equal parts Sam Cooke and Mike Skinner over a gorgeous string and horn arrangement, but Drew’s songwriting aesthetic, which manage to somehow be both lush and economical, ensures that ultimately there’s less fat to be found here than on a roast dinner in the clink.  It’s an ambitious, affecting and near-flawless follow up, and surely a herald of brilliant things to come.






 
 



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