BANKS – Goddess

GoddessThe name’s Banks, Jillian Banks. Or, if you’re shouting about her like plenty of people seem to be doing; BANKS.

Armed with enviably high cheekbones and a seductive, throaty Los Angeles drawl, Miss Banks is causing a stir with her moody r’n’b, and she knows it. From self-taught keyboard to recording songs using a dictaphone, Jillian’s childhood shoulder-brushings with music were humble. Now she’s being compared to artists including Lauryn Hill and Tracy Chapman - the very women who inspired her to write her own songs in the first place. Not bad.

The 26-year-old’s first attempt at a full-length is intense and straight-talking from the beginning. Goddess is a stand-out: self-assured and laced with sophistication, it certainly doesn't sound like a debut. Then again, BANKS has been making music for over a decade, which is probably why.

An endearing sort of confidence reveals itself on opener “Alibi”, which simmers with shimmery bass, contrasting a sleek, girly sweetness. Later on, “Beggin’ For Thread” screams of artists like MØ, with its catchy, beat-driven feel and electro-pop sensibilities. “Waiting Game”, on the other hand, is shadowy and a little sinister. Flitting between angles of her personality as she moves down the track list, BANKS goes full circle, showcasing both sugary pop and shadowy, darker sentiments on a debut that ticks all sorts of boxes.

Pay attention to title-track, “Goddess”. It has depth - though perhaps not lyrics-wise - and it’s got an air of “I told you so” to it, with lines like, “She gave her all, you gave her shit,”  and, “She’s a goddess, you never got this.” Initial impressions based purely on the words would be that it’s kind of cringe-worthy but the whole thing is hypnotising; sultry and sincere, it compels you to listen again. BANKS tells the story of a girl who is under-appreciated, leaves the under-appreciator behind and won’t turn back. Instead of being childish and bitter, however, a sense of maturity battles through, making “Goddess” assertive, sensual and womanly. Add glitch-y, spacey electronics and this one’s a winner.

Fast forward to the end of the album to “Under The Table”, which sees BANKS throw every element of the image she’s built up of herself thus far out of the window. An emotion-wrought ballad, the track is wallowing, slow-paced and stripped-back raw; it’s a brave choice which leaves striking vocals bare. Merely an opportunity to show off her voice without distraction? Perhaps. But it really doesn’t feel like that’s the main reason.

BANKS is strong but vulnerable and Goddess is an honest collection of music expressing her emotions. In the end, it’s a memorable debut release with an undeniable unifying theme in the shape of a man who broke a heart. Simple as that.

Release: 9th September 2014, Harvest Records


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