On her debut album, Goddess, Banks sounds like the logical conclusion of several 2010s musical trends: her moody, confessional lyrics echo Lorde, Lykke Li, and Lana Del Rey, while the downtempo sonics recall cutting-edge R&B talents like Tinashe, FKA Twigs, and her former tourmate the Weeknd. Since she combines so many familiar-sounding elements, it's not surprising that Goddess sometimes sounds a little generic. That feeling is emphasized by how much musical ground the album spans as it ranges from piano ballads (such as the Justin Parker-produced, Adele-esque "You Should Know Where I'm Coming From") to starkly electronic tracks (the tense, finger-snapping "Stick"). Like some of her inspirations and contemporaries, Banks' music sometimes gets too murky for its own good, but Goddess' best moments allow her personality to shine. On songs like the title track, she crafts a persona that's sexy, brooding, and more than a little dismissive; on "Brain"'s chorus ("I can see you struggling/Boy, don't hurt your brain/Thinking what you're gonna say"), she's a lot dismissive. Goddess also includes several songs that already appeared on the London EP, and their inclusion pushes the album's length to well over an hour, adding to the feeling that it could use more focus. While tracks such as "Change" and "Waiting Game" still sound good, newer songs like the brashly romantic "Fuck Em Only We Know," the high-drama "Beggin for Thread," and gently intimate "Warm Water" are much more immediate. While Goddess could have used some better editing, it still reveals glimpses of an artist who could shape the sounds of the times instead of just reflecting them.
by Heather Phares
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