Dark and Powerful
Marking two years since her debut album Goddess, Banks is back with a second album, titled The Altar. Though her music can generally be categorized as alternative R&B, Banks brings a more indie pop or alternative pop feel to her recent release. Her music style and taste is known to be on the darker side with her consistent grey-scale music videos, and with The Altar she takes things a step further. It’s not a grungy-cute darkness like Marina and The Diamond’s Electra Heart but somewhere between that and Tove Lo’s musical style in Queen Of The Clouds.
Kicking off the 12-track (plus one bonus track) album is “Gemini Feed,” released earlier in the summer as a well-received single. The high and low contrast in the melody of this number makes it a great one, and it has a unique start that sounds almost like an amateur recording of her with simple piano accompaniment. It can be assumed the album title was coined from the lyrics in the chorus of this number, “And to think you would get me to the altar, like I’d follow you around like a dog that needs water.”
“Fuck With Myself” is another popular number released as a single that is a strong, confident female number. It has a set of nice steady beats while provoking late-night bedroom vibes similar to The Weekend. The lyrics of this track might make listeners giggle a little, yet prove to show Bank’s confidence in herself, saying “cause my love so good, so I fuck with myself more than anybody else.” This number along with others in the album embrace a similar concept to “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld—released back in 2015—which promoted self-love and confidence. Banks pleads for love and affection in “Love Sick,” asking to be called “baby” in a sweet yet grungy way. It’s quite catchy with an indie Tove Lo feel going on.
“Trainwreck” picks up the tempo a bit with a dark hip-hop style making it a head-bobber. One can’t help but hear a similarity to Kehlani’s recent single “Gangsta” from the Suicide Squad OST. In “This Is Not About Us,” Banks picks up the pace and sings in almost a murmur. It has a predictable melody that’s still enjoyable. “Weaker Girl” could have been a hit single since it has a strong catchy melody suitable for a radio hit. It presents a similar message as “Fuck With Myself” stating that she needs a “bad motherfucker like me.”
“Mother Earth” is one of the softer and calming tracks on the album with a string accompaniment and an acoustic guitar melody. “Poltergeist” starts off with this humming effect—the overall track has Lorde or Kiiara vibes, as she changes and plays around with the beats and voice effects. It’s a playful yet catchy number.
The passive-aggressive yet confident lyrics present in almost every track are relatable. Despite the album being a little too consistent with its beats and melodies and leaving something to be desired in the way of a variety, it’s otherwise coordinated perfectly. Though broadly an indie pop album, it’s dark like the Lorde or Tove Lo musical style, but also sparks female confidence. Its bold confessional lyrics coupled with catchy melodies and beats make The Altar one to download (not stream) for repeated listening.