Banks’ ‘The Altar’ Is Your Shadowy Soundtrack for Fall: Five Songs to Know
Just as the first few crimson leaves begin to clutter the sidewalks, the air becomes brisk and the pumpkin spiced everything returns en masse, Banks is back now too — hardened, bolder and badder than before. Impressively, the moody singer's done it again, even better this time around, with The Altar, her full-length follow-up to her 2014 debut record, Goddess, out today (Sept. 30).
Still thriving in the shadowy corners of her mind, the singer peels back the layers and dives deeper into her psyche — an ominous and twisted place to be — and triumphs through pain on her defiant second go-around.
The whole collection actually deserves your full attention, from "Mind Games" to "Poltergeist" to "Mother Earth," but for those in search of some instant tracks to tackle, look no further than these five must-listens from The Altar.
And then listen to all of it, please.
"And to think you would get me to the altar..."
As the namesake of the album, "Gemini Feed" opens up Banks' second set with a damning lyric that thoroughly sets the tone of what lies ahead. Angered but assuredly independent, the singer lays own her voice — layered with that signature demonic undertone — across an intoxicating SOHN co-crafted beat as she outlines the exact cause of a relationship now in ruins.
A biting kiss-off from the depths of Hell, "Trainwreck" finds Banks diving deep into urban mode as she dismisses "a guy I never wanted to kiss" atop trap textures and dooming beats — even giving us some slight rapping moments, channeling Brooke Candy. "It's quite depressing, there is no fixing to the problem when you're talking to an idiot," she snarls. Ouch. That chorus is an absolute monster — "I had to get away, I had to get away, I had to get away!" (Speaking of monsters, almost all of this album could work seamlessly into your upcoming Halloween party playlist.)
Wanna get with Banks? You better be better — and badder. "I'ma need a bad motherf--ker like me," she mutters on the string-laden dismissal, later blossoming into a beautiful orchestral moment in its final seconds. In an interview with TIME, Banks described the song as coming from the perspective of a "wounded healer," or "somebody who’s been through something where they felt hurt or traumatized...when you’ve gone through something and you’ve overcome it, you’re able to heal other people." She's stronger than yesterday, as a wise Princess of Pop once declared.
"F--k With Myself"
"I f--k with myself more than anybody else." Welp. That's one way to say it: rather than playing it safe with a less blunt cut from the LP, Banks dove into The Altar headfirst with her cockiest contribution as Single No. 1. It's the last song she penned for the album, inspired by something she said offhandedly while in the recording studio. A little FKA twigs, a little Björk, the disjointed statement of self sees the singer playing her voice, her style, and generally feeling herself more than ever.
The Altar comes to a crashing conclusion in the form of "27 Hours," co-crafted alongside SOHN, Danny Boy Styles and Ben Billions. It's here in the album's final moments that she truly blows with all her might, and it's a beautiful killer. Literally. "Baby, murder was a case!" she cries as almighty, Sia-like chanting come rushing in. "It's been 27 hours since we even saw the sun!" Consider this dark and twisted relationship bled dry, officially.
Okay, now go listen to the whole thing.