Release Date: Sep 9, 2014
Record label: Harvest
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Review Summary: Don't tell me to listen to your song because it isn't the sameRewind the clock back 12 months and Jillian Banks was another unsolved mystery, a curious dark heart that approached her bedroom pop with the same brand of confessional frankness that had launched a thousand faces before her. Shrouded in black fabric and internet hype, her retinue of vogue producers have pushed her to a point so far removed from her word-of-mouth beginnings it's hard to look back at the artist as just another midnight social media discovery. With a major-label record deal undoubtedly brokered as much on her cult-like following as her penchant for left-field hooks, Banks has become a true artist of the internet conglomerate, a darling of the digital evolution.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Jillian Banks didn't so much as arrive on the music scene as she did float through the pop landscape like a siren ready to steal the hearts of men and women with her incredibly sultry and painfully honest minimal R&B. Since then, BANKS has emerged from her mysterious cocoon, revealing more and more about herself as a person with every single release; each one an enchanting slice of lusciously produced pop with a femme fatale edge that's still willing to dive into the dingy depths of her emotions.
Jillian Banks, with her meticulous pout, heartfelt lyrics and sleek electronic R&B sound, occupies a contradictory space. On the one hand she seems easy to dismiss as a major-label bet hedged on a pretty face and easily digestible vocal hooks, purred over beats from a conveyer belt of trendy producers. On the other, she is an artist on the rise, who is connecting with her fans.
It’s been a whirlwind year and a half for Jillian Banks. It all began with radio play from Zane ‘Hottest Record In The World Right Now’ Lowe back in February last year, and from then on there was no stopping her. A nod in the Beeb’s Sound of 2014 award only added to the growing frenzy, and the huge singles just kept on coming, too. Steadily assembling a growing roll-call of rising producers - SOHN, Shlohmo, Al Shux, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaur and Lil Silva – Banks quickly established herself as a major new player worth watching.
Listening to Banks’ debut LP, Goddess, now, at the time of its release, it’s easy to forget the mystery that surrounded her emergence into the music world. In fact, the idea of mystery as a marketing tool seems to have faded away as quickly as it became en vogue, with even Aphex Twin giving interviews these days. Appropriately, Goddess leaves little to the imagination, with the Los Angeles native taking a confessional tone throughout the album.
If you happen to be in the market for a new, hyper-hip iteration of slow-burning electronica, music that lands somewhere between Adele’s open-hearted confessionalism and Drake’s unhurried R&B, then Jillian Banks is your girl. Just 26 and releasing her first full-length LP this week, the artist officially known as Banks is entering a somewhat crowded field of female-fronted electro-pop outfits. She’s working hard to distinguish herself from the pack.
On her debut album, Goddess, Banks sounds like the logical conclusion of several 2010s musical trends: her moody, confessional lyrics echo Lorde, Lykke Li, and Lana Del Rey, while the downtempo sonics recall cutting-edge R&B talents like Tinashe, FKA Twigs, and her former tourmate the Weeknd. Since she combines so many familiar-sounding elements, it's not surprising that Goddess sometimes sounds a little generic. That feeling is emphasized by how much musical ground the album spans as it ranges from piano ballads (such as the Justin Parker-produced, Adele-esque "You Should Know Where I'm Coming From") to starkly electronic tracks (the tense, finger-snapping "Stick").
“What if I never even see you ‘cos we’re both on a stage”, sings 25-year-old LA singer Jillian Banks on ‘Waiting Game’, setting the mood for this brooding debut. Here, and on the undeniably powerful ‘Brain’, her gloomy take on R&B works deliciously well. ‘Beggin For Thread’, meanwhile, is slightly brighter while maintaining Banks’ grace and poise.
For an album titled Goddess, Jillian Banks's debut starts off with a surprisingly self-deprecating mea culpa: “Please give me something to convince me that I am not a monster,” she sings on “Alibi.” It becomes evident early on that self-aggrandizement isn't the Los Angeles singer-songwriter's aim. Instead, the album deals almost exclusively with relationships—specifically their dissolution. “Everyone knows I'm right about one thing/You and I don't work out,” she sings on “Before I Ever Met You,” which is what it might sound like if Fiona Apple and Massive Attack ever slinked out of their respective dark corners and decided to record a song together.
"I got some dirt on my shoes," Jillian Banks sings on "Beggin for Thread," as if she just tracked it in from the graveyard across your new white rug with a c'est la vie shrug. Following several online releases, her debut LP confirms a beguiling, diaristic voice that echoes avant-pop forebears (Aaliyah, Fiona Apple, Kate Bush) and a taste for gloomy, synth-centric productions. On "Someone New," electronics stripped off, you hear a singer needing more song.
Penumbral, sultry and digital, the early-2010s vogue for minimal R&B shows no signs of abating. Having set blogs alight last year, Los Angeles singer Banks has since toured with the scene don, The Weeknd, and her debut album sounds exactly as you would expect: slow-burning, fidgety, attractively troubled. Nearly half its tracks have seen the light of day already, not least the standout Waiting Game.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jillian Banks, otherwise known as simply Banks, has been labelled with the tag “Artist to Watch” since the start of the year, garnering nominations for BBC Sound of 2014 and MTV’s Brand New for 2014, after Banks released her first two EPs, Fall Over and London, to positive reviews. While Banks was more than deserving of the early recognition which came with being nominated for such awards – especially after the brilliant brooding intensity of Before I Ever Met You – such plaudits can be less of a blessing and more a curse. The exposure is certainly great, but it does also heap a whole lot of pressure on the artist.
The worst crime wrought by this decade's wave of woozy, trip-hop-influenced R&B has been inciting boredom. Dreary, midtempo music often triggers that feeling, and those are two adjectives that could describe Goddess, the debut album by Jillian Banks, at both its best and worst. Banks is an American singer/songwriter in her mid-twenties who made it big after Zane Lowe played her single "Before I Ever Met You"on his BBC Radio 1 show; with its dull greyscale backing track, the tune put all the emphasis on her voice, husky and rough around the edges.
During the dwindling light of 2013, we plonked LA singer-songwriter Jillian Banks onto our Ones To Watch list; quite rightly so, in hindsight. She’s had a scorching year, carpet-bombing the airwaves with stellar cuts, neo-R&B enchantment and some of the biggest, brashest, ballsiest pop in yonks. Banks lurches from goth-twanged maestro, to “It’s allergies, I swear,” balladeer, to smirking femme fatale with all the grace and poise of someone who’s been playing the game since we were all in nappies.
Although it’s endlessly smooth, there’s something fickle about Banks’ debut album. It could be the content itself, drenched in fame-induced solitude and sexual uncertainty. “What if I never even see you ’cause we’re both on a stage?” she sings on Waiting Game. Or it could be the varied, unexpected production coming from the capable hands of musicians like Sohn, Shlohmo, Lil Silva and others.
Romance demands warning labels on “Goddess” (Harvest), the debut album by Jillian Banks, the Los Angeles songwriter who simply calls herself Banks. “What if I said I would break your heart?/What if I said I had problems that made me mean?” she sings in “You Should Know Where I’m Coming ….
opinion byPETER TABAKIS < @ptabakis > If “alternative” had any meaning when it modified “rock” back in the early 1990s, it was as a descriptor for artists working within the dominant genre of the time, who were actively subverting its commercial appeal while also embodying its fundamental principles. We know how that story played out. The rebels replaced the establishment, ruled the culture for a bit, and then eventually lost influence when faced with a small group of worthy progeny and a tidal wave of awful copycats.