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III

Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Harvest Records

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Three years after her electronically robust sophomore outing, The Altar, and Banks has grown. On her aptly titled third set, III, she continues her upward trajectory with improved vocals and production value, presenting a wiser version of herself with more mature lyrics focused on longing, love, and loss, and fresh, expansive atmospherics that toy with her usual alt-R&B stylings. There's a refreshed spirit coursing through III that transforms her typically chilly and hypnotic aura into something grander. Whereas her first two releases maintained a fairly homogeneous, dark synth energy, III features a number of surprises that elevate the effort to new heights in her catalog. Key collaborators help buffer her vision, with frequent Kanye West sidemen Hudson Mohawke ("Gimme") and Francis and the Lights ("Look What You're Doing To Me"), R&B crooner Miguel ("The Fall"), and Adele/Rihanna producer Paul Epworth ("Hawaiian Mazes") contributing to a handful of highlights. In addition to the aforementioned "Gimme" and "Hawaiian Mazes," the throbbing "Stroke" features a late-song funk-bass injection that not only shifts the mood of the track, but also of the entire album. Later, the tribal "Alaska" and '80s synth pop gem "Propaganda" have the same effect, hinting at exciting new directions for future compositions. These creative bursts help Banks deliver her most accomplished statement to date, a collection brimming with emotion, attitude, and unexpected delights. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2016 | Harvest Records

Ex-lovers, take cover: Banks' sophomore outing The Altar is ready for a sacrifice to the goddesses. With the fire of a thousand scorned lovers, Banks goes all in with her lyrical attack. Whether destroying an ex or empowering herself, Banks has strengthened her voice -- resolutely and with increased production value -- in the two years since her debut Goddess. The Altar is slightly less sleepy than its predecessor, including a handful of exciting hip-hop moments that pop and rumble ("Trainwreck" and "This Is Not About Us" are two standouts). Adding to the Fiona Apple-meets-Massive Attack vibe of past work, Banks also incorporates some of Björk's experimental spirit this time around, suffusing dramatic tracks with sweeping Homogenic orchestration ("Weaker Girl" and "Mother Earth") or spare Biophilia/Vespertine cool ("Fuck with Myself" and "Lovesick"). Throughout, she bleeds into each song. At times scathing and aggressive, tracks like "Gemini Feed," "Trainwreck," and "Weaker Girl" snarl with edge and attitude (sharp production by Sohn, Tim Anderson, and DJ Dahi add to the might). When she shifts the gears of pain inward, she lays herself bare with unflinching honesty and vulnerability, like on "Lovesick" and "Mind Games." As on the cover art -- where Banks is seen without makeup and her hair tied up and unkempt -- her protective barriers are down and her insides are visible to anyone willing to look (or listen). Although the latter third of The Altar is mostly a hypnotic comedown -- think Broods, Vaults, or the Weeknd's Trilogy -- Banks packs enough energy and zeal at the starting line to duly lay waste to whoever was foolish enough to break her heart. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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III

Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Harvest Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 2019 | Harvest Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2017 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Chill-out - Released March 4, 2013 | Good Years Music Limited

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2017 | Capitol Records, LLC

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III

Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Harvest Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2014 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 2, 2016 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2016 | Capitol Records, LLC

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III

Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Harvest Records

CD£13.99

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2014 | Banks

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"). Like some of her inspirations and contemporaries, Banks' music sometimes gets too murky for its own good, but Goddess' best moments allow her personality to shine. On songs like the title track, she crafts a persona that's sexy, brooding, and more than a little dismissive; on "Brain"'s chorus ("I can see you struggling/Boy, don't hurt your brain/Thinking what you're gonna say"), she's a lot dismissive. Goddess also includes several songs that already appeared on the London EP, and their inclusion pushes the album's length to well over an hour, adding to the feeling that it could use more focus. While tracks such as "Change" and "Waiting Game" still sound good, newer songs like the brashly romantic "Fuck Em Only We Know," the high-drama "Beggin for Thread," and gently intimate "Warm Water" are much more immediate. While Goddess could have used some better editing, it still reveals glimpses of an artist who could shape the sounds of the times instead of just reflecting them. ~ Heather Phares
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 23, 2015 | Banks

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 4, 2015 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Chill-out - Released May 27, 2013 | Good Years Music Limited

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 19, 2016 | Capitol Records, LLC

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House - Released February 16, 2015 | Musol Recordings

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Rap - Released May 20, 2012 | Lab Dwellers Entertainment

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Dance - Released January 8, 2012 | Banks