BANKS’ ‘Goddess’: Album Review

There’s a level of accessible obscurity that brought BANKS to the forefront of 2013’s summer and has kept her here for the release of her debut album Goddess(out today, ). While artists like FKA Twigs remain cloaked in intimidating anonymity and every princess in pop’s rolodex is currently overexposed, BANKS is just enough of both to not be too much of either. While Goddess is more of a compilation of BANKS’ first year of fame, it’s beautifully dark — presenting a level of cautious optimism that anyone in and out of love can find relatable.

When BANKS’ London EP arrived last year, the four-track offering presented a heavy dose of back-to-back reality checks. The jazzy “Waiting Game” was riddled with doubt, as BANKS cooed “What if I never even see you ‘cause we’re both on a stage? Don’t tell me listen to your song because it isn’t the same.” Then there was “This Is What It Feels Like,” which sonically turned up and turned down as Lil Silva’s production signified the rollercoaster ride of love. “Bedroom Wall” and “Change” were both smooth R&B, both displaying an intense level of vulnerability like the aforementioned cuts, which despite BANKS’ unique electro-tinged sound, made her tangible.

All of these songs manifest themselves on Goddess (“Bedroom Wall” is on the Deluxe Edition), and truth be told most of Goddess’ songs are familiar since many already have videos. From the title track to “Drowning,” “Brain,” “Warm Water,” “Beggin For Thread,” you name it, it’s there — with many other solid additions. What makes it worth the purchase is how the songs come together, seamlessly weaving one girl’s entire mindstate as she looks for love in rightfully wrong places.

The opener “Alibi” has Sohn crafting a synthy yet snake charming backdrop, as BANKS pushes her chops to the limits and hits that soprano like Tony’s murderer. Other songs like “Sticks” are reminiscent of that day Nelly Furtado hung out with Timbaland, while “Fuck Em Only We Know” is reminiscent of those years Aaliyah hung out with Timbaland. There’s a lot of the late singer’s influence woven throughout the work. In BANKS we witness the impact Aaliyah had on young girls toward the end of her life — when she released her eponymous final album where she was experimenting with a heavier electronic-meets-industrial sound that blanketed her airy vocals. BANKS is an obvious fan (check out her cover of “Are You That Somebody”), yet maintains her own identity, especially on acoustic cuts like the piano-heavy “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From” plus “Under The Table” and “Someone New.”

Goddess is well-rounded and beautiful, living up to the expectation BANKS set just a calendar year ago. She writes, she wrongs, she does everything love addicts do and the result is not only her autobiography, but a soundtrack to anyone’s life.

Best Song That Wasn’t the Single: “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From.” While so much of Goddess is full of synths and plug-ins, this track displays BANKS’ awesome range and piano skills thoroughly.

Best Listened To: While crying hysterically and eating your feelings. Duh.

Idolator Score: 4.5/5

— Kathy Iandoli

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