How many artists these days can claim to have made the jump from first SoundCloud upload to debut album in little over 18 months?
Jillian Banks (known simply as BANKS) can raise her hand. The LA-based singer-songwriter has taken the express lane to the upper ranks of the music industry. Unlike anything churned out by the pop-factory though, BANKS has arrived as a fully-formed artist, with depth and substance. Her debut album ‘Goddess’ is a confident release from a rising star.
Opening track Alibi introduces the beat-heavy electro-pop that permeates most of the album. BANKS has taken a basic pop sound, stripped it back to its core and reconstructed it with an electronic framework. Her delicate falsetto somehow commands a hip-hop beat, creating a huge sound.
Other songs like Waiting Game, Drowning and title track Goddess develop this style, built within her unique soundscape. Different tiers of backing vocals are matted into one layer and sit comfortably under the drum tracks.
An angry undertone to her songs is brought to a head in Brain, a standout track from the album. The song stews for two minutes before taking an angry leap, which sees the verse-chorus structure repeated back at a higher octave and with much more venom.
An unusually large number of these tracks were actually released before ‘Goddess’ itself made it on the shelves. Her label wisely released a different track every month or so along the recording process, to tease the album but crucially to allow her fanbase to develop.
Even before the album debuted, BANKS had a cult following, with fans buying her merchandise and getting her lyrics as tattoos. You get hype like this around worthless boybands and the like but BANKS, being very quiet on social media and shy in general, is being glorified for lyrical content and artistic merit – a much more justified obsession.
Hip-hop beats and lyric-tattoos aside, BANKS is unquestionably a talented song-writer. The album features a number of purer ballad-like songs, none more impressive than closing track Under The Table. A tender song relying on simple piano chords and some light strings, it offers a glimpse of an album that could have been.
Hearing Goddess as an acoustic offering would surely have been equally as exquisite.
A confident debut like ‘Goddess’ is telling of an artist who understands their own sound. BANKS has quickly but deservedly jumped to the foreground of electronic music. We can surely expect her to have a massive year.