Saturday 30 August 2014

Banks - Goddess

Sexy doesn't mean showing everything at once, flashing it all and leaving nothing to the imagination.  Sexy means subtlety, mystery, cool seduction and even a touch of darkness.

This Banks has in spades.

Since the release of her breakthrough single Waiting Game last year, the LA singer has become the bloggers' darling of 2014, seducing the critics with her moody, sensual take on R&B.  And after a number of EPs and singles, 'Goddess' is one of the most anticipated debuts of the year, essentially offering more of the same.

Banks is a singer who relishes the darkness.  Waiting Game set the template for her sound: all throbbing bass, fragile vocals and glacial synths.  It's no coincidence that she supported The Weeknd on his tour last year.

Across the full album, this sound is applied to different moods, reflecting both metallic toughness and haunting vulnerability.  "Fuckin' with a goddess and you get a little colder" she warns on the sinister title track, and on the menacing Beggin' For Thread she coos "My words can come out as a pistol / I'm not good at aiming but I can aim it at you".  On opener Alibi, though, she's less self-assured: "Please give me something to convince me that I am not a monster".

The lyrical focus of 'Goddess' is certainly the breakdown of relationships, exclusively from a feminist point of view.  It's epitomised by Drowning: "From the girl who made you soup and tied your shoes when you were hurting / You are not deserving".  And whilst less explicit than FKA Twigs, her views towards sex are equally, coolly provocative - "I wanna know how you taste" she knowingly sings on Stick.

From her deep lower register to the nasal timbre of her fluttering falsetto, Banks' default vocal mode is restraint.  It lends the sound a sense of cool detachment that only adds to the sensual nature of the music - when she does finally let loose (the latter half of Brain for instance), it's all the more poignant.

A couple of acoustic ballads bring her voice to the fore, though they're largely forgettable.  Banks is at her best when lithely slinking around delicate melodies supported by rich bass-heavy production, as on Fuck Em Only We Know and Waiting Game.  Though perhaps overly similar across the lengthy track list (and familiar to fans of her material), Banks' sensual, atmospheric sound definitely lives up to the hype.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Goddess
* Waiting Game
* Brain

Listen: 'Goddess' is released on 1st September.