“I started all the wars” Jillian Banks sings on “Poltergeist,” the darkest track on her sophomore effort, The Altar. This release is more adventurous than her debut LP, as well as claustrophobic, with an ambitious R&B aesthetic on par with The Weeknd and FKA Twigs.
While aforementioned “Poltergeist” recycles the metaphors that Banks has used in songs prior to The Altar‘s release and exhibits she’s been talking to her darker side, track eight, “Mother Earth” is a song for healing. Listeners are able to march ahead alongside the Cali-based songstress rather than sit in their own defeatism.
Another theme Banks has refused to put on the back burner this time around is self love. In her first single, “Fuck With Myself,” she murmurs “I fuck with myself more than anybody else,” as an unapologetic mantra to remind everyone that she is her own best friend, and to value her opinion of herself above what others picture her as. In track seven, “Weaker Girl,” she comments on how heartbreak can transform into confidence: “I think you need a weaker girl / and Imma need a bad motherfucker like me.” Not to mention, the violins that close this track add to the ever-present grandeur.
There is something so special about her skeletal last track, “27 Hours,” purely a potent cocktail of immaculate vocals, rawness, and the aftermath of a distraught, murdered relationship. “To the Hilt” is similar in theme: “You were my muse for so long / now I’m drained creatively,” she confesses.
Banks is confident, complex, and worth the risk. In an interview with Clash from 2013, she explained that “the second I stop writing the most honest, raw, vulnerable stuff is the day that I don’t want to see.” And honest, raw, vulnerable indeed. With lustful song “Lovesick,” sassy and liberating “Trainwreck,” and the dysfunctional yet demanding “Mind Games,” best believe Banks masters the art of unmasking her emotions.
Essential Tracks: “27 Hours” “Trainwreck” “Weaker Girl”