Over the past year or so, Jillian Banks, known more commonly as just BANKS, has been serenading listeners with her dark and brooding slice of R ‘n’ B, tinged with electronic elements. Her two fabulous EPs saw her burst onto the scene with a lot of promise and after the announcement of her highly anticipated debut album Goddess out earlier this month, we had a lot to look forward to.
On tracks like the SOHN produced “Waiting Game” (which previously featured on the London EP and caused some controversy) we get to hear BANKS in her element as she addresses a breaking relationship with her smooth and silky vocals over a sweltering bed of synths. Her voice exudes passion; she’s committed to this relationship but questions if her lover is too as she intones “I don’t want to say your love is a waiting game” to close the chorus. By the end of the song however, she’s realises it’s a lost cause “I’ve been scared of even thinking ‘bout where we are” and has lost all hope.
The relatable songwriting coupled with that aching desire in her voice, is what makes the track so powerful, and similar undertones can be heard throughout the album. “This Is What It Feels Like”, another London track, once again finds BANKS trying to make amends, singing “And finally when I let myself fall hard for you / I see you trying to pretend”. This time, Shlohmo takes production duties, filling the song with thick, thumping drums, a heavy bass and woozy synths.
However, whilst BANKS attempts to empower and enlighten the listener, you feel like she’s thrusting the same message to you again and again, inciting both boredom and irritation. It’s almost like she’s trying too hard, and in turn, gives tracks like “Stick” and album opener “Alibi” a forced, and arguably fake feel.
Similarly, despite enlisting a number of exciting producers for the record, the tracks seem to lack the depth and balance perfected in her London EP. Whilst the odd dark and moody soundscape befits a ballad, it gets tiresome when each track tries to fit the same mould. When she does try to lose the fancy software tricks in “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From” and “Someone New”, everything sounds honest, real. She’s allowed to spread her wings and watch her voice soar against the simple piano melodies, bringing light to the emotion we adored from her previous releases. Overall, Goddess sees BANKS fall ever so slightly below the (high) expectations set by London, but can only result in her delivering a much stronger follow up.