Three years after her electronically robust sophomore outing, The Altar, and Banks has grown. On her aptly titled third set, III, she continues her upward trajectory with improved vocals and production value, presenting a wiser version of herself with more mature lyrics focused on longing, love, and loss, and fresh, expansive atmospherics that toy with her usual alt-R&B stylings. There's a refreshed spirit coursing through III that transforms her typically chilly and hypnotic aura into something grander. Whereas her first two releases maintained a fairly homogeneous, dark synth energy, III features a number of surprises that elevate the effort to new heights in her catalog. Key collaborators help buffer her vision, with frequent Kanye West sidemen Hudson Mohawke ("Gimme") and Francis and the Lights ("Look What You're Doing To Me"), R&B crooner Miguel ("The Fall"), and Adele/Rihanna producer Paul Epworth ("Hawaiian Mazes") contributing to a handful of highlights. In addition to the aforementioned "Gimme" and "Hawaiian Mazes," the throbbing "Stroke" features a late-song funk-bass injection that not only shifts the mood of the track, but also of the entire album. Later, the tribal "Alaska" and '80s synth pop gem "Propaganda" have the same effect, hinting at exciting new directions for future compositions. These creative bursts help Banks deliver her most accomplished statement to date, a collection brimming with emotion, attitude, and unexpected delights.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung