[Review] Banks Evolves on Sophomore Album, ‘The Alter’

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“I fuck with myself more than anybody else”, Banks sings on her lead single “Fuck with Myself”. This mantra stays true throughout her new album, The Altar, with little inconsistency as Jillian Banks establishes a confidence within herself. In an interview with Time she was asked what she wanted to do on this record that was different, she had a very simple response, “I didn’t want to do anything differently. I never go in wanting to do something or having a plan. I’m just different.”

The album opens with “Gemini Feed”, which is Banks calling out her ex-lover and holding nothing back. She sings of how she just blindly followed his every move like a mindless robot. This follows into “Fuck With Myself”, which is basically saying she could care less what you think of her and she’s not sorry. A bold statement, but one that most people could agree with. It’s her level of songwriting combined with her vulnerability that keeps her fan base solid. They hear the pain in her voice, and how raw her emotions are.

From there “Lovesick” is a new sound for Banks as she adds in the faint sound of a guitar. “Mind Games” is described as an ode to addiction of an abusive partner. Her distorted vocals make the song great, but it simply gets repetitive as it echoes through the whole album until you get to “Mother Nature”. This is where she takes a chance with just her voice and a guitar. The album is well-produced but the style and subjects are repetitive. There are not enough songs experimenting with her vocal style.

“Judas” ignites the fire yet again singing, “Said I’d never make it on my own maybe I’m just better off alone, too numb to deal too numb to feel the knife in my back”. Here, she calls out everyone who never supported her and thought she couldn’t make it. “To The Hilt” is where Banks talks about a man that she used to be with that served as her muse. Without him, she struggles to function creatively. The album ends on a break-up ballad “27 Hours”, it’s an exclusive track that is only available on the digital copy.

Somewhere in this album, there was room for Jillian Banks to rewrite her sound and give a new look to her sophomore album. You can hear her searching for a new direction as she tries her luck with an acoustic song. While the album had twinges of inconsistency, Banks’ showed her rare talent and how she can evolve in her song-writing. Where she goes after this is anyone’s guess.

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