If you have the internet (which you clearly do), you’ve heard of Jillian Banks, aka Banks by now. The dark and stormy 26-year-old Californian has stormed the musical stage in a whirlwind of hype (ironic, considering her adamant anti-social media stance), and, in the aftermath of her debut album release, absolutely deservedly so.
Goddess is an incredibly impressive debut. Melting together elements of soul, trip hop, electronic, hip hop, pop and more, Banks has created something not only unique, but something really, really good. From electro bangers to heart-wrenching ballads, from sparse minimalism to raspy, sexual rhythms, this album has it all.
There’s common motifs throughout the album. Banks knows her best angles – and flaunts them well. Almost every track opens similarly – choral, bordering on angelic melodic openings, before the bass, beat and vocals drop it. She’s also really embraced the often-difficult-to-grasp concept of contrast, and the use of space. Her voice fluidly moves between those low, husky notes to a high falsetto – and the music polarises accordingly. While her falsetto doesn’t waver for a moment, I think that the real soul can be found in the deeper tracks which feature her lower range.
Opening with the top-heavy electropop tune Alibi and playfully traipsing up and down her vocal range during Goddess, it’s during Waiting Game that we first get a feel for her darker side. The melody is darker, more sensual and emotional. An almost impossibly delicate falsetto comes through, before the rumbling bass drops in. As the bass forms that muffled, thumping beat, the melancholy track grows darker and denser. Turn up the volume to get the full effect of that muffled, womping synth.
Brain is one of my favourite on the album. Opening as a minimal, incredibly subtle track, Brain champions the rawness of Banks’ lower range. As it flourishes and grows, her voice suddenly rises a couple octaves. PHWOAR. Those effects are phenomenal. I can’t get enough of it. I think this is my favourite track on the album. Stop here for a tick and watch this video clip:
Fuck, You Should Know Where I’m Coming From. I’m spent. This ballad is so goddamn gorgeous. A track nearly 100% vocals and piano, both the delicacy and power of Banks’ voice are never showcased stronger than they are right here.
Singles Drowning and Beggin For Thread are catchy and sensual, with a husky, sexual depth. Someone New is the most delicate song on the album. Another ballad, it’s meeker than anything else on Goddess.The gently plucked guitar accentuates her vulnerability. It doesn’t last long though, with Warm Waterretaining the subtlely, but none of the innocence. As the album comes to an end, the final minutes are soft and mellow. Piano ballad Under The Table is an angelic, heartbreaking way to end the album.
Not only does Banks have an incredibly vocal range, but a stylistic one, too. The ability to cover such a myriad styles in one album – and to do them all so well – is worth the praise alone. Add to this the fluid beats, the sensual melodies and precisely arranged soundscapes, this album takes you on one hell of a journey – and it captivates you every single step of the way.