The musical style of Banks’ debut is instantly familiar; falling into the pigeonhole labelled (often mockingly) “hipster R’n’B”, Banks finds herself nestled somewhere between Lorde and The Weeknd. Dreamy synths, heavy layering and sharp electronic beats weave a deep, rich sound, which is not particularly groundbreaking but no less impressive.
That said, Banks’ talents are certainly not limited to this kind of musical style: while the opening five tracks follow a fairly consistent vein, the sixth track, ‘You Should Know Where I’m Coming From’ is a low-key, no-frills piano ballad. Musically and lyrically, this track is undeniably solid, though there are times when her vocals tread a dangerous line between “belting” and “straining”. It’s a good track, if a little out-of-place sandwiched between the moodier, layered grooves that come before and after.
Goddess is an impressive feat in overall size as much as anything else: the standard edition contains 14 tracks, reaching very nearly a full hour of running time, and the deluxe edition bumps this up to a staggering 76 minutes. Yet while many artists would struggle to keep a captive audience for a full hour of run-time, Banks seems to have had little difficulty in keeping the sound varied and interesting throughout.
Arguably the best track on Banks’ Goddess is the most unlike her – track 12 of 14, ‘Someone New’, takes the form of a quietly melancholy acoustic guitar tune. It serves as a timely reminder that Miss Banks’ vocal and songwriting talents hold up just as well when thrust into the spotlight as they do when shrouded in layers of vocal effects and electronic layering, and beautifully winds things down into the album’s relatively gentle closing tracks.
Banks’ debut is certainly not one to be ignored. Vocally the album covers wide ground as Banks flits everywhere from Ellie Goulding to Nelly Furtado and many places in between, faltering only on the most powerful of choruses. The production is difficult to fault, in both style and consistency – yet where Banks shines the most is when she steps out from behind the veil of heavy production and deep synths and instead offers an unfiltered insight into who she really is. If anything it’s a shame that this doesn’t happen more often on Goddess; but Banks has plenty of time to explore, and it’s clear that her ability won’t be standing in her way.
Goddess is out now through Harvest records.