This year has been generous for new and emerging artists. With most superstars between albums, many newcomers have the opportunity to show off their talents and become the next wave of big names. Banks‘ debut album was among the most anticipated new releases for 2014 as she faces the challenge of not getting lost in the shuffle.
The first thing that jumps out about Goddess is the incredible amount of deep synths that pulsate throughout. Although sometimes overdone resulting in blending between tracks, particularly in the middle of the record which doesn’t grab as well as either end, it does wonders adding to the atmospheric depth to it, making the record darker and moodier than it would have been otherwise.
It could have easily been a standard R&B album, but working with up-and-coming producers like Sohn, Shlohmo and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs forces a blend of electronica, trip-hop and ambience that sometimes sound close to The Weeknd‘s production style, but it results in a delicious audio experience, which helps in separating Banks from the rest.
Goddess is an album that often places Banks on the giving end of relationships. Denial and deception arise throughout the record as she reveals her feelings, whether they are bound to be returned or not. On This Is What It Feels Like, she is being pushed away from someone who isn’t ready to commit to something more, where she sings “and finally when I let myself fall hard for you/I see you trying to pretend like I’m making it up.”
She admits to being difficult to be with on You Should Know Where I’m Coming From while the lyrics in Change depict an abusive partner who promises he will change: “Baby don’t go/I didn’t know/I’ll change, I swear.”
The beauty of Goddess is how much variety it has to offer without venturing too far off course. The lyrics cover many different aspects of doomed relationships from waiting, to holding on even though it’s too late. She even gets sexual on Stick, which is sure to make “licorice stick” the new “disco stick” or “lollipop”.
Even Banks herself has many different sides of performing on the record. Waiting Game, which originally appeared on the Divergent soundtrack, is an echo of Ellie Goulding‘s Halcyon record, while Fiona Apple is channeled for the piano ballad You Should Know Where I’m Coming From. Change has a slight jazz sound to it that helps draw a comparison to Norah Jones, and Someone New, a guitar ballad, is reminiscent of fellow newcomer Birdy‘s simpler arrangements.
Goddess isn’t the best album to come out this year but it does well enough to push Banks as one of the year’s standout artists. Most of the tracks are strong enough to stand alone and could serve as a drawing point, but as a collective, it’s a record that fits together well.
3. Waiting Game
5. This Is What It Feels Like
6. You Should Know Where I’m Coming From
8. Fuck Em Only We Know
10. Beggin For Thread
12. Someone New
13. Warm Water
14. Under The Table