Banks
London


4.5
superb

Review

by David USER (20 Reviews)
May 27th, 2014 | 80 replies


Release Date: 09/10/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Never guilty/Say it ain't your fault because you had an emotionally abusive daddy/And cause of this you don't know how to act.


Let’s just get one thing off the bat: the sonic and lyrical ground covered by LA’s Jillian Banks on this record isn’t all that new. In fact, this particular brand of confessional “post-R&B” has been pretty fruitfully plundered over the past 4 years, especially in light of the innovations to the formula made by artists like James Blake, How to Dress Well and The Weeknd. Because of this form of R&B’s pliability, it’s been adapted into many different parts of the pop world, much to the chagrin of alt-R&B “purists.” Sensual late night slow jams can now be heard on an Usher album or a Justin Bieber b-sides compilations (Climax and PYD, respectively), and has effectively become the norm for pop artists wishing to show their mettle as legit songwriters. Taking all this into account, what about Bank’s “London” EP makes it so compelling?
For one thing, Banks is a remarkably capable singer. From soaring falsetto notes to a gravelly and earthen contralto, she shows remarkable range all across this EP. From the cooing chorus of ‘Change’ to the sensual come-ons that bookend ‘Waiting Game,’ Jillian seems to be bringing it all vocally. Yet this kind of vocal accomplishment could easily be overlooked if the lyrics were poor, as evidenced by the Weeknd’s latest output in “Kiss Land”. Fortunately for everyone, the lyrics that Banks brings to the table here are some of the most raw and affecting this side of “Echoes of Silence.” ‘Change’ is particularly moving as Banks details an emotionally abusive relationship and the variety of excuses that her abuser uses to justify his behaviors. The lyrics read like entries from the diary of a truly fragile woman who’s found out far too many times the pitfalls of fully vesting trust in another person. This puts her firmly in the camp of confessional singer-songwriters that have been rising out of the R&B landscape these days, but moreso than that it puts her right at the forefront of these artists, especially considering this is more-or-less her first release.
Additionally, the production is all-around fantastic, even considering that it does hit the usual touchstones of this kind of music. There’s still the rippling basslines that you’d expect from a Weeknd or James Blake track, as well as HTDW’s icy synthscapes. Despite being from Los Angeles, Banks enlists the help of some of the UK’s best producers to craft a singular sound with an almost Eastern bent. The melismatic chorus that opens ‘Waiting Game’ is provided by SOHN in what may be one of the best instrumentals he’s yet crafted (and certainly one that would’ve made “Tremors” a more compelling listen). Lead single “This Is What It Feels Like,” produced by Jamie Woon and Lil Silva, serves as a testament to both their capability as producers and Banks’ wonderful eye for instrumentals. In fact, this song is the most “R&B” on the EP, with its woozy melody and sensual drum sequencing. It recalls contemporaries like Nelly Furtado and Amy Winehouse, but does so in a way that puts them to shame, showing the full extent of Banks’ capability as a songsmith. The only real letdown here is ‘Bedroom Wall,’ which stagnantly floats through its 4+ minute length without much excitement or narrative depth. But even the nadir of this EP is still head-and-shoulders above the low points of the aforementioned “Tremors” and “Kiss Land.”
With this EP, Banks showcases a wonderfully malleable voice and effective songwriting that doesn’t rely too heavily on production to provide replay value. The messages of longing and sadness in love are universal, and communicated in the best possible way. With debut single ‘Fall Over,’ Banks flirted with these themes, but played it safe with more pop-oriented songwriting. On “London,” nothing’s held back, making for an emotionally compelling listen and one that forecasts a long and illustrious career. Among the camp of female singer-songwriters, Banks has proven herself to be the one to watch for 2014.



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user ratings (49)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 27th 2014


3450 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

EP rules. Will read review but you should probably put spaces between your paragraphs as it's easier on the eyes

deathschool
May 27th 2014


8218 Comments


Break em up, bruh.

Digging: The Smith Street Band - No One Gets Lost Anymore

Nikkolae
May 28th 2014


4848 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the review is very well written but you need to break up your paragraphs man, otherwise all is well

Despite being from Los Angeles, Banks enlists the help of some of the UK’s best producers


i could've fucking swore she was a brit, album is amazing

Digging: Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
May 28th 2014


21965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this finally got a review

Nomos
June 12th 2014


840 Comments


Never heard of her until my YouTube freefall through alt-RnB and dream pop led me to "This is What is Feels Like". Damn that is well produced and catchy. I only heard that song, so I'm not sure about any others, but whatever layering/vocal effect used on that song makes her sound EXACTLY like Justin Timberlake. Really good song.

ShadowRemains
July 31st 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is what it feels like is really fucking good

full length should be interesting

Digging: Banks - Goddess

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
July 31st 2014


21965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

haven't been digging the new tracks she's been releasing aside from Brain

ShadowRemains
July 31st 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

drowning and beggin for thread are both good

Wolfhorde
August 8th 2014


13458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so does this twinkle or what

ShadowRemains
August 9th 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it sexes

Relinquished
August 9th 2014


25060 Comments


yo i can't wait for the LP

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 9th 2014


31173 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Didn't even know this had a review

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

ShadowRemains
August 15th 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

jammin

Wolfhorde
August 16th 2014


13458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Considering I was totally bashing one of her videos this isn't even half bad.


Liked what I heard from the new LP better, though.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2014


21965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i've been bashing out to her videos too

Wolfhorde
August 16th 2014


13458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Please tell me this doesn't mean what I think it does.

ShadowRemains
August 17th 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it means what you think it does

Wolfhorde
August 17th 2014


13458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Can't say I didn't see that coming.

ShadowRemains
August 17th 2014


20743 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

but you can say you did see it coming

(good luck to anyone who reads this conversation later)

Wolfhorde
August 17th 2014


13458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oooh that's a paddlin'.

But yeah, this shit is actually pretty cool etc, can't say I dig the lyrics but w/c



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