Album Review: Banks’ “Goddess”

Album cover for "Goddess" by Banks. (Photo courtesy of themusicninja.com)

by Margaret Okakpu

Rating: ***1/2

Relatively new to the music scene, Jillian Banks, better known as Banks, hails from Calif. and got her start when DJ Zane Lowe played her single “Before I Ever Met You” on BBC Radio 1.

Her debut album, “Goddess,” is a noteworthy first effort and an easy listen. Signed to IAMSOUND Records and Good Years Recordings, with a voice as melodic as it is haunting, Banks’ sound is one not easily forgotten.

Her music falls under genres such as Indie R&B, PBR&B, and even Trip Hop. She is frequently compared to acts like The Weeknd, Jhene Aiko, and Frank Ocean. The album is quietly compelling and has great moments, but somewhere along the way it missed the mark.

Out of the 18 tracks on the album, about half were either released as singles or previously appeared on her “London” E.P.

“Goddess” takes a new spin on the old topic of relationships gone bad. The tracks are fresh, and as expected with Banks, on the moody side.

While “Alibi” is a medium-tempo shout of desperation, it sucks the listener in with lyrics like,”Please give me something to/convince me that I am not a monster/Babe give me one excuse.”

Other songs like “Beggin’ For Thread” and “Fall Over” feel like a transition. These songs, along with “F*** ‘Em Only We Know,” sound over-produced in comparison to the other material on the album, lacking Banks’ typical dose of soul. In the midst of a gloomy album, these up-tempo tracks just don’t fit.

“Waiting Game” and “Stick” further the slow burn that is “Goddess.”

Banks displays a heavy persona with a fierce bite. During the reprise of the chorus of “Brain,” she calls out, “I can see you’re struggling/Boy don’t hurt your brain/thinking what you’re gonna say/cause everything’s a game.”

The intensity of her words cut right into the listener. The sting of her sentiment works in her favor, zapping the cliché right out of the breakup.

The breakthrough tracks “Someone New” and “Under The Table” are traditional ballads that take a noticeably softer turn, humanizing the overall product. They give us a break from the sad, soul-stirring vibes that make up the majority of the album and remind the listener that Banks does indeed have a sweet side.

Although at times the album seems disjointed, there are definite breakthrough moments that makes “Goddess” worth a listen; however, the good only slightly outweighs the bad points of this album, so I suggest listening to it on Spotify before purchasing. While it isn’t for everyday listening, it is perfect for a day of brooding.