It’s clear by now that 2014 has been the year of female singer songwriters with a twist. With Lana bursting through the flood gates the previous year, the trend for women wearing their heart on their sleeve backed by hip–hop beats has become the go to formula. LA born Banks is not much different. Her EPs Fall Over and London sent the internet hype machine to over drive and she was quickly touted as the one to watch by any music aficionado worth their salt.
Having this much anticipation surrounding a debut LP can often result in disappointment or at least have people waiting to tear it down as soon as the opening track finishes. Banks and her team however, have made sure no such thing could happen with an army of producers ranging from Lil Silva, Shlohmo and Jamie Woon. The result is a slick, effortless and modern affair, littered with break beats but making sure Banks’ clear, strong vocal style is the prominent instrument throughout.
She shows off this diverse vocal with opener ‘Alibi’, where her usually calm level voice is pushed to falsetto standards. It’s startling and unexpected, but just intriguing enough to wonder what other surprises she might have up her sleeve. Next is the quadruple onslaught of ‘Goddess’, ‘Waiting Game’, ‘Brain’ and ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ – all of which have been released as singles and fuelled the buzz around this 26 year old, with good reason. Each song is slick, confident and a lot classier then Rey’s silly pouting or FKA Twigs hyper–sexuality. Banks makes sure she keeps herself shrouded in mystery on songs like ‘You Should Know Where I’m Coming From’ which musically sounds like a lovelorn ballad but vocally is a frustrated misunderstood cry.
Defensiveness seems to be the theme of the album, she wants to be understood but she doesn’t want to let her guard down and while these would be conflicting emotions elsewhere, Banks delivers these with such grace it’s hard not to agree with her cold edge. She does warm up on the gorgeous ‘Warm Water’ and on confessional closer ‘Under the Table’ we learn that all the girl power on the rest of the album is a front and she really is just a bit vulnerable underneath it all.