By Helen Walpole
Refreshing and upfront, Banks’ latest offering ‘The Altar’ occupies a decidedly pro-woman space within the realm of dark-pop.
It’s not to say that songstresses like Dua Lipa or Tove Lo don’t achieve this – far from it. But with this album Banks asserts herself from the off, and the overarching theme of the album is certainly one of powerful femininity and unabashed sexuality.
Openers ‘Gemini Feed’ and ‘F*ck With Myself’ are pulsing electronic tracks with a driving production style that set the tone for the album. In these, Banks explores themes of self-love in all its guise, and the need to stand her ground. A highlight of the album is ‘This Is Not About Us’, with its catchy vocal hook, glitchy drums and pulsing synths. The album’s production, whilst remaining largely stripped-back, does a great job of capturing a sense of momentum without detracting from the lyrical content of the songs.
The artist isn’t afraid to show her strength through vulnerability, either. On ‘Mother Earth’ she pairs soft strings and an acoustic guitar with a lyrical, expressive melody as she contemplates her emotions. A muted electric piano makes an appearance on ‘To The Hilt’, a reflective track where the artist explores her regrets regarding a relationship she had to walk away from for her own sake. ‘Weaker Girl’ provides a good balance between assertion and vulnerability, with its hook of ‘I think you need a weaker girl, ‘cos I’ma need a bad motherf*cker like me’ contrasting the mournful strings spread out through the song.
‘The Altar’ offers a great exploration of what it is to navigate the world as a woman in 2016, on top of some excellent production, in a great fusion of electronica and R&B. Fans of MØ, Chvrches and the like will love this latest effort from Banks.
This article was published in our October 2016 issue.