My favourite thing about Banks is that she is not afraid of the dark. Although still somewhat new to the limelight, the genre-hopping singer/songwriter doesn't hesitate about creating pensive, moody music without pacifying mainstream audiences by putting out some lighter tracks. And in doing so her music asserts the legitimacy of these emotions that are usually stereotyped as being simply female melodrama. Tracks like “Change” and “Under the Table” are unabashedly weepy, over-thinking, angry, jealous, etc. but nonetheless powerful and fearless in their execution. Owning these feelings is empowering, and, as Banks explains in an interview with Untitled Magazine, was the aim of her most recent album, Goddess.
Released November 4th, the track will likely be part of an upcoming album expected to drop by the end of this year. Like so many of the tracks on Goddess, the vocals on “Better” stand out as unique and intriguing in their rawness. In classic Banks fashion, these vocals, yearning and organic, are flawlessly layered over intrinsic and magnetizing instrumental production and together they give Banks' honesty a futuristic backdrop. With “Better,” Banks is clearly pushing herself to new heights and experimenting with the effects of the tone of her voice when she delivers her hard-hitting lyrics. By the end of the song, the singer breaks out into raspy, strained pleas and it seems as though she is less worried about sounding pretty or composed and is embracing the emotional weight of the song. Another point of departure from Goddess is the classical feel of the chorus. Although much simpler than some of the electronic influences on her previous album, the booming chorus feels like waves crashing and elevates the song as it reaches its climax. This effect is similarly used in Adele's latest, “Hello,” which, paired with the choral backup vocals makes the song feel powerful, cathartic, and in a word, bigger. Perhaps to showcase the different tides of emotion within the song, the instrumentals are fragmented between more mellow, r&b-tinged echoes that either lead up to or recover from the intensity of the rushing piano chords of the chorus.
The video also coincides with these transitions. During the first verse, the backing is solely breathy, circling echoes of the singer's vocals. In conjunction, the subjects appear to be slowly moving body parts, but we can only distinguish them between shadows. As the chorus emerges triumphantly, these fragmented parts come into the light as whole beings, stretching out and taking up more space within the frame. The gold-flecked figure standing in the dark at the beginning becomes visible enough to recognize it as Banks herself. Closer to the end, there are shots of what looks like plaster, and something breaking through from underneath. Perhaps this is a vision of what Banks is urging her subject to do, to “see” her in the light for all her worth (in gold? Maybe that's a stretch but it looks cool regardless).
Banks is currently touring with The Weeknd and Travis Scott and although it might be a little while until the next album debuts, the artist has offered up some more ear candy to hold fans for now. Check out her collaboration with UK artist, TĀLĀ, below in the girl power jam, “Wolfpack” and stay tuned on her twitter for more updates.