Banks - Brain

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It’s been almost a year since we first brought you coverage of Banks, and it’s fair to say that in the last 3 months, her stock has risen considerably. If you’re keeping score, that’s about the 50th act we’ve broken with a promise of wider recognition. We’re that good.

Her first release of the year is more important than it would be for most acts, purely because of the lavish praise and coverage she recieved from many outlets, as part of endless end of year lists and 2014 predictions. Thankfully, she does not disappoint, coming through with her unique spin on the dark R&B/electro soul style once more. The production is helmed by the gifted Shlomo, who engulfs a blend of gentle electronic melodies and synths in a thick bass coating, giving the track’s atmosphere plenty of depth and gravitas. The development of the beat for the track’s second half is excellent too, throwing forth more percussive elements for a climactic finish, and it’s a strong showing from the upcoming producer.

Banks’ vocals are as seductive and sultry as ever, winding through the first half of the track at a slow, reflective pace, before exploding into life for the second half with an empassioned, powerful delivery that showcases a range we’ve not seen a great deal of thus far. It’s a very strong show of variety, and certainly demonstrates that she has far more in her arsenal than some may believe. Another excellent release, and the buzz for her debut LP will stand to increase even further as a result.

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Banks-Waiting Game

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Track-by-track, Banks not only seems to double her fanbase, but also continually one-ups herself in terms of song quality. This, the third release of hers (that I’ve heard) is another laidback, mellow effort but from a much different angle than her previous effort, the slightly more positive Warm Water- this one opts for a similar emotional vibe, but in a more pained, downbeat manner that highlights Banks’ introspective lyricism in a much more reflective, visceral manner.

Where the aforementioned Warm Water was notable for the synergy between the velvety production and smooth vocals, this one utilises the contrast between the two for a much sharper, more penetrative effort. The production opens gently, allowing the vocals too pierce through its minimal, gentle sound, before progressing upward into a hazy combination of synths, haunting vocal samples and menacing percussion, creating a dark, moody and intense vibe. The momentum created by the more vibrant sections of the production allow Banks’ vocals to scale back when the beat is at its peak, whilst she slides into the brief production pauses to let out more emotive, sharper deliveries, in what is a comfortable show of vocals versatility and also of production awareness, in terms of allowing it room to blossom. Worth a listen for sure, and another solid release from the talented upcomer.

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Banks-Warm Water (Video)

This single has grown on me with each play, and I’m clearly not alone- her profile seems to be raising with every passing day, and this video release will certainly help that growth.

The buttery smooth production is incredibly gentle on the ears, and sets this clip up so well that it’s pretty difficult to fail; there’s no approach that wouldn’t have worked with such a strong backdrop, though this visual accompaniment does certainly maximise its impact. Banks’ and her love interest’s movements are kept minimal, with most of the motion coming from the camera work and scene changes, a factor that helps enhance the rather gentle, delicate nature of the song, whilst the monochromatics throughout work with the song’s stripped-back, atmospheric nature well. The occasional bursts of water in various forms further adds a calming, organic quality to the video, and again helps to build on the uncomplicated, minimal style of both the audio and the video.

An incredibly relaxing audiovisual, and one which will hopefully prove to be a strong launching pad for Banks to really get some wider recognition. Grab the audio on iTunes right now.

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Banks-Warm Water

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Some of you may recall Banks from her explosive introductory post a couple of months back, and the upcoming singer drops off her latest single, a smooth, soulful effort that shows a good twist of variety.

The atmospheric production is a hugely enjoyable one, combining delicate synths with barely-there tribal percussion, both of which do most of the work in filling each corner of the soundscape without too much assistance from any dominating melodies or heavy multi-layering. It’s certainly got a rather ‘winter night’ vibe, with Banks’ vocals are both suited to that style, and also offering plenty of warmth and feeling to add further depth to the track, and pull that spaced-out production down into a more grounded package. It’s as smooth a track as you could ask for with no nasty surprises, and this should be a favourite with those after some laidback alternative pop.

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Banks-Fall Over (Video)

When electronic and alternative collide, the end product is usually a good one, and that’s the case here with Banks’ latest single. In addition to those two genres, there are heavy doses of pop, soul and R&B in here too, making for an eclectic but ultimately very cohesive end product.

The diverse production is built up of traditional-style percussion, distant, sharp samples of her own vocals, and synths that progress through the verses to build well to the hook, before stepping away and back in for the hook’s high point. It’s a good backdrop for sure, and whilst it packs in plenty, it keeps a sense of minimalism and atmosphere that matches up to the monochrome, visually-efficient video. Undoubtedly though, the highlight here is the vocal performance from Banks, with a gentle, subdued style in the verses that steps upwards into the first half of the hook, and really explodes into life with passion and power for the second half. It’s a great show of versatility, and with each section packing in plenty of emotion, the video’s sharp scenes cuts and Banks’ facial expressions combine for a suitably drmatic accompaniment to those vocals. Very likeable all-rounder, and you can get the Fall Over EP now.

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