III is a statement. The third album by Banks, and her first in three years, feels like an evolution in not only the singer’s songwriting, but also in terms of soundscape. While her first two records — 2014’s Goddess and 2016’s The Altar, respectively — dabbled in murkier waters, III employs lighter sonic palettes and new effects that provide a fresher musical perspective for the singer to lay herself bare. And, boy, does she do just that. In typical Banks fashion, she pours her heart out across the album’s thirteen tracks, allowing listeners to feel the range of emotions she experienced during her three years away from the spotlight just as passionately as she does.
Aggressiveness is the prevailing theme of the record, whether it be in the taking of what she feels is hers (“Gimme”) or demanding her feelings be recognized by a partner (“Look What You’re Doing to Me”). These iterations become more nuanced as the album plays out, including calling out a narcissist turned lover on “Stroke,” reprimanding a backstabbing friend on “The Fall,” and pursuing a potential partner on “Alaska.” While Banks’ previous records hinted at these emotional textures with one or two songs dedicated to them apiece, but III revels in the singer’s newfound confidence.
Though she uses this record to propel herself into a new chapter, many tracks hearken back to her earlier output. “Godless” is a reference to Goddess (the song was co-written by Banks’ partner during that particular era); “Alaska” appropriates the gulped vocal technique from The Altar’s “Fuck with Myself;” “If We Were Made of Water” transforms the aquatic analogy of “Warm Water” into a desire for simplicity. The most overt of these similarities, however, is Goddess’ “Someone New” finding a spiritual successor in closer “What About Love;” pleading with a lover to understand why she must leave them on the former, the latter picks up after said lover has moved on with their life. For all its regret, the song ends with Banks’ niece saying “I love you,” offering a final glint of hope in a melancholy but nonetheless uplifting record.
Standout tracks: “Till Now,” “Gimme,” “Godless,” “What About Love”