By Timia Cobb
Release Date: July 12, 2019
Banks is back after a three year break with her third studio album, III, released on July 12, 2019. Banks is a Los Angeles native and has been writing music since she was 15. Her latest album stays true to her familiar alternative R&B, electronic pop feel that’s given off in her first two albums The Altar and Goddess.
Banks genre is kind of debatable. She has a way of allowing her music to sound very R&B influenced with its heavy usage of smooth beats and her soulful voice. She also makes her music dance on the line of being called electronic pop by extremely manipulating the synthesizers, echoes and basses in the backgrounds of her music. The album depicts the various amounts of emotions Banks has gone through, but also makes it understandable to her listeners. This album is allowing Banks to share her life with her audience.
The album III is 13 songs long and keeps listeners on their toes as they go through a journey of upbeat, sad and powerful songs that proves Banks music doesn’t just subscribe to one genre. The first song on III is “Till Now.” Having this song be the intro of the album was a smart choice because it is truly setting the tone of what III is going to be about. “Till Now” showcases Banks outstanding ability to portray what she’s feeling through her singing the same way an actor would on screen. The lyrics deal with her questioning her sanity and being with someone who made her question who she was, which allowed her to be vulnerable enough to be controlled.
In the song she sings, “Baby, your words don’t add up, had your gas light on then you promised I’m the one who’s crazy.” Gaslighting someone is the act of manipulating someone to point of them questioning their own mental stability. Banks is clearly singing about having to go through this struggle but putting a stop to it.“Till Now” is Banks battle cry, it’s her gathering herself when she was low and having to understand that she might love this person but they’re using her. I loved that she put this song first because it’s giving listeners a glimpse into the possible reason she’s been away for three years.
After “Till Now” ends it goes directly into the next song ‘Gimme’, which I hate. I don’t hate “Gimme” but the transition from a song that tells a story of her having to deal with an emotionally abusing relationship to jumping headfirst into a song about sex and worthiness is a little drastic. It makes me question if the songs were put in this order on purpose and if so what was the reason for it? Besides this “Gimme” is a very upbeat song that makes you feel like a boss but other than that there really isn’t anything that makes it stand out next to other songs in the album.
Throughout the rest of the album there’s a pattern of the songs going from very upbeat to slow melancholy feels. However, her sad songs always seem to have a bigger effect on me when I listen to them. Songs in the album such as “Sawzall”, “Hawaiian Mazes” and “The Fall” just have a bigger impact because they focus more on Banks voice allowing listeners to hear her emotions and gives each person the opportunity to interpret the songs into however it might make them feel. Her more upbeat songs such as “Look What You’re Doing To Me” just lacks depth in the lyrics, I’m not saying it isn’t a good song to play super loud and dance to, I’m saying that’s all it is.
Although, one song out of her more upbeat songs stood out to me. “Alaska” is eccentric and different. The lyrics hold substance but the song is also able to have a big dependendence on sound effects and electronic beats making it an incredible song. In earlier songs you would expect to hear either extremely emotional lyrics or something to dance to but I feel Banks allowed her creative writing and love for charismatic beats to merge very well in “Alaska.”
III is another masterpiece by Banks that expresses how creative she is as an artist and why I will continue to listen to her music.