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BANKS | III | Album Review

Capitol/Harvest Records
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Electronic/R&B fusion artist BANKS released her third album, aptly titled III, at the beginning of July. The LP seems to show a shift in the artist’s music, as it includes both the electronic-heavy and lyrically downbeat songs she is known for, as well as several excellent acoustic tracks.

It opens with the angsty “Till Now,” where the singer/songwriter mourns against her manipulative lover. The track is by far the most emotional on the entire record.

Throughout the second half of the record, BANKS breaks away from dark atmospherics. “Alaska,” one of the highlights of the LP, embraces breezy rhythms and staccato piano, leaving out synth and heavy bass entirely. Similarly, “Sawzall” relies almost solely on a guitar to accompany BANKS’ light, soft-sung vocals. These songs, broken up by more standard BANKS fare such as “The Fall” and “Propaganda,” stand as the most memorable of the entire collection. 

In contrast to the more sonically toned-down pieces, though, III does provide quite a few solidly crafted typical BANKS songs. “Gimmie,” the album’s lead single, finds the singer calling herself “that bitch” and demanding to be given what she wants and deserves against a background of pulsating synthesizers that hardly ever give the listener a moment to catch their breath—in a good way. 

It is, however, followed two tracks later by the dud “Stroke,” which manages to be topically similar to  “Till Now,” but fails to become anything nearly as impressive due to it sounding like every other edgy pop song. In retrospect it would’ve been a wise choice to scrap the song entirely.

On a song-by-song basis, BANKS’ III delivers interesting tracks in both the styles that fans have come to expect and in newer, less electronic melodies; however, as something to be listened straight through, it’s evident there was not quite enough thought about what to leave on the recording room floor.

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