Published Aug 30, 2016While Banks & Steelz — the union of Interpol's Paul Banks and Wu-Tang Clan's RZA (under his Bobby Steelz moniker) — may get some unfortunate comparisons to Killer Mike and El-P's Run the Jewels project, this is a whole different beast. It's a sleek, wild, lightning-fast panther to RTJ's charging rhinoceros. Banks provides vocals, RZA handles raps, and both contribute to production, with the odd assist from folks like Kid Harpoon and Andrew Wyatt.
Anything But Words is at its best when it raises the tempo: the high-energy "Giants" and the thumping "Ana Electronic" are easily the album's highlights, combining comfortable rock backdrops with some razor-sharp RZA verses. Banks & Steelz picked their guests wisely, too. While Kool Keith misses the mark (because he's Kool Keith and hasn't been good for a decade, though no one seems to realise it), Florence Welch and fellow Wu member Ghostface Killah really come through.
The album falters a little when the pace drops. The last few tracks drag on and on, and it's a particular surprise that the final cut — "Point of View," with Method Man and Masta Killah — is almost a slow-dance, with long instrumental noodling and sparse, soporific verses. Still, when Anything But Words ups the pace, it proves to be one of the finest records of the year. (Warner)