BANKS at O2 ABC Glasgow, 19/11/14

Playing her first headline show in Scotland, Jillian Banks (BANKS) starts her set with ‘Alibi’, the first track from latest album Goddess, and it’s a fitting introduction of what to expect from the down-tempo LA pop artist.

A slender figure clad in an all-black dress, Banks is subdued in a thick morass of purple hues and an abundant mist of dry ice.

Taking inspiration from an array of styles and genres, including British dubstep, American R&B, and Universal 80s pop, Banks adeptly incorporates the moody sensibilities of Portishead, subtly mixing a more commercially accessible cache of melodious songs and some genuinely empathetic lyrical content amongst hackneyed themes surrounding failed relationships.

The notably forced “hey-I’m-weird-and-kitsch,” act distracts from the set due to the clichéd “in-between-song” dialogue, such as “This is a very special night for me, I’m feeding on the energy in the room,” and “everyone has their own Goddess,” (eh, …um, ok…).

It makes for a cringe inducing and naïve attempt to appear esoteric, instead coming across like a haphazard foray of schizophrenia.

It’s the musical endeavors that stand out, facilitated by Banks’ minimal and unassuming voice.

Highlights include: ‘Waiting Game’, with simple beats sitting in the back of the mix, a drivingly distorted bass, ethereal synths and a hauntingly beautiful melody and ‘Brain’ with its massive 80s inspired beats, soaked in reverb, carrying the same musical sensibilities as Lana Del Ray’s ‘Born to Die’, with huge lyrical chorus: “I can see you struggling, boy, don’t hurt your brain, thinking what you’re gonna say cause everything’s a game”.

Finishing on her more commercially accessible R&B styled ‘Stick’ is a nice touch as tonight delivers a mix of good and great down-tempo pop with lots of potential.

Words: Derek Robertson

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