Music Review: Banks – Goddess

Jonathan Janssen – Staff Writer

Beware:  I think I may have fallen in love.

Singer Jillian Banks, known on stage as Banks, should not have the large following that she does.  Starting out relatively unknown and releasing her music through the website SoundCloud, she achieved a quaint record deal through her friend Lily Collins.  Her name gained traction when BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe played her first official single “Before I Ever Met You” on his show.

The floodgates opened.  Banks released EP after EP, receiving Goddess Album Covercritical acclaim with each new release.  Earning numerous awards, as well as being featured in TV spots, and in magazines, Banks shot up in the music industry.

Her moment in the spotlight peaked in 2013 when she toured as the opening act for Ontario-based singer The Weeknd on his fall tour.  Banks went on to schedule her own tour in the United Kingdom, as well as appearing in the popular music festivals, Coachella and Bonnaroo, in 2014.

She is following up all of this success by releasing her first album. Goddess, which hits stores Sept. 9, is a collection of the best songs her numerous EPs had to offer, sprinkled with new content. With her style of music described by many as PBR&B (a combination of Pabst Blue Ribbon- a widely-known ‘hipster’ beer- and rhythm and blues), she seeks to step into the shoes of her predecessors and idols including Feist, Fiona Apple, and Erykah Badu.

Interestingly enough, Banks’ tour with The Weeknd solidified a significant similar style between the two singers.  Goddess’ production – constructed underneath meticulous detail of big names like Sohn, Shlohmo, Jamie Woon, and Justin Parker – coupled with her vocals, ranging from Lorde’s to Ellie Goulding’s register, give the album just the right eeriness to compliment The Weeknd’s shadowy, mysterious sound.

While The Weeknd’s work contains mainly chauvinist lyrical content, Banks’ differs here, conveying the opposite approach.  Vogue declares that Goddess “perfectly captures a feeling of being lost and powerless in the world.”  Banks wanted to release an off-kilter love album and has succeeded in creating a perfect environment to croon about her ups and downs experienced throughout her love life.

The first half of the album is its high point with its methodical, beat-heavy, haunting opener “Alibi,” in which Banks desperately pleads, “Please, give me something to convince me that I am not a monster.”  “Waiting Game,” released before the conception of the album – and arguably, its high point – sees a mellow, resigned Banks in a Weeknd-esque tone pensively assessing her relationship.  The first single off the album, “Brain” is a simple warning from Banks to her lover to stop trying to impress everyone he comes in contact with.  Starting out in a melting low register, she amps up the heat midway through the song to shriek out the piercing reminder again.

While this was her freshmen effort, one would be wise to look out for Banks in the future.  We definitely haven’t heard the last from her.

Songs Worth Noting: “This Is What It Feels Like” “Drowning” “Beggin For Thread” “Warm Water”

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