The Altar – Banks a Track by Track Review

Fans of Jillian Banks expected a quick return after her release of “Better” last November but that was only a glimpse of what was to come. Her debut album, “Goddess” demonstrated strong emotions and originality in expression back in 2014 but this darker records follows similar ideas with more raw emotions that we did not see in her debut.

Gemini Feed – Banks opens  “The Altar” surprisingly, with a pop song that focuses on her astrology. This song opens her album well with its smooth drums and background information of her personality.

Fuck With Myself – The lead single from “The Altar,” and a shocking one. This song, as the name suggests has an edge to it that makes you feel cooler than you actually are. Banks expresses she doesn’t need validation with “I used to care what you think about me,” drawing a serious distinction from the heartbroken girl we saw in her debut.

Lovesick – Her raspy voice is utilized perfectly in this track as it changes from the harsh “Fuck With Myself,” further illustrating her Gemini tendencies of changing her emotions.

Mind Games – Would it be a Banks album without a killer ballad or two? This song brings out the deeper emotions and more representation of her vocal capabilities. The production of this track creates a dark ambient that characterizes this album.

Trainwreck – This track screams angst all the way from the vocals to the lyrics. Banks once again demonstrates her blunt side as she states you can’t fix something when talking to an idiot. This track sort of follows a stream-of-consciousness which is evident in the quick paced verses.

This Is Not About Us – This songs harsh alteration of vocals continues the somewhat harsh tone of this record while also having a catchy chorus.

Weaker Girl – The seventh track seems to be a “Goddess” part two as she exclaims she needs a “bad motherfucker like me” while her partner just wants a weaker girl. The outro closes this track perfectly with orchestration, new from Banks.

Mother Earth – This minimalist song exemplifies the power of her voice, at some points you can almost feel her about to break into tears. A truly emotional track that also demonstrates her growth from a similar track “Someone New” from her debut album.

Judas – This hip-hop influenced track that alludes to the backstabbing Apostle shows that even her softer voice has that jagged tone.

Haunt – This song basically sounds like how you think it would minus the unexpected bird whistles. The guitar in this tracks really impacts the transitions, bringing attention to the contrast from the softer verses and intense chorus.

Poltergeist – Opening mysteriously, “Poltergeist” represents the more R&B side of Banks. The production of this track gives you the chills and brings to life the ghost symbol she uses to represent her past.

To the Hilt – This track filled with haunting vocals focuses on her past relationship that had a draining end. Despite the end she still misses that part of her life, staying in the house still haunts her, reminiscent of “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From.”

27 Hours – Banks closes this dark album with both parts of Banks’ self, the vulnerable part  represented by the light piano in the beginning and her harder side with the explosive chorus.

Favorite tracks: Gemini Feed, Fuck With Myself, Trainwreck, Mother Earth, and To the Hilt.

“The Altar” proves how Banks has grown from her first album, she no longer sees herself solely as a Goddess. Her astrological sign illustrates the vast differences between the part of herself she sees as a Goddess and the more emotional and vulnerable side. Jillian Banks’ concept is more clear than it was in her debut as she introduces her her two sides in the opening track. I can see this album having longevity with its timeless edge and raw emotions, definitely one of the best alternative albums released this year.

SCORE: 93/100


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