The Altar

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The Altar
Banks - The Altar.jpg
Studio album by Banks
Released September 30, 2016 (2016-09-30)
Studio
Genre
Length 44:54
Label Harvest
Producer
Banks chronology
Goddess
(2014)
The Altar
(2016)
Singles from The Altar
  1. "Fuck with Myself"
    Released: July 12, 2016
  2. "Gemini Feed"
    Released: August 3, 2016
  3. "Mind Games"
    Released: August 19, 2016
  4. "To the Hilt"
    Released: September 16, 2016

The Altar is the second studio album by American singer and songwriter Banks. It was released on September 30, 2016, by Harvest Records. Banks collaborated with several producers on the album, including Tim Anderson, Sohn, and Al Shux, with whom she worked on her debut studio album, Goddess. The album received generally positive reviews from critics and became her second top 20 in the United States. It spawned four singles: "Fuck with Myself", "Gemini Feed", "Mind Games", and "To the Hilt".

Background

On November 4, 2015, Banks released the single "Better", along with its accompanying music video.[3] Banks toured with The Weeknd for a second time, opening for him on his The Madness Fall Tour across North America from November to December 2015.[4] She announced on June 8, 2016, that she had finished work on her second album.[5] On July 29, Banks revealed that the album would be titled The Altar, along with its cover art and release date.[6]

The lead single from the album, "Fuck with Myself", was released on July 12, 2016.[7] Banks premiered the track on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show, where she said it was the last song she wrote for the album. "There's so many meanings to it", she said of the song. "It could be like, 'I fuck with myself', like, 'I mess with myself more than anybody else.' It could be, 'I fuck with myself', kind of like, 'I'm feeling myself.' It means a lot of different things that I think a lot of people can relate to."[8] The album's second single, "Gemini Feed", premiered on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show on August 2, 2016,[9] and was released digitally the following day.[10] "Mind Games" was released as the third single from the album on August 19, 2016,[11] followed by "To the Hilt" on September 16, 2016.[12] A music video for the song "Trainwreck" premiered on January 18, 2017.[13]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 70/100[14]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[15]
Clash 7/10[16]
DIY 4/5 stars[17]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[18]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[19]
Pitchfork 5.1/10[20]
PopMatters 6/10 stars[21]
Q 4/5 stars[22]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[23]
Sputnikmusic 4.9/5[24]

The Altar received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 70, based on 17 reviews.[14] Jamie Milton of DIY magazine wrote that "when going for the jugular, BANKS combines unbending confidence, warts 'n all detail and gigantic choruses in the same move", adding that "The Altar is very close to being a razor-sharp pop blueprint."[17] George Garner of Q magazine called the album "[s]tunning", stating that "Banks has excelled at transforming accrued romantic scarring into mesmeric songcraft" and "The Altar marks a radical intensification of her talents".[22] Neil Z. Yeung of AllMusic opined that "Banks has strengthened her voice—resolutely and with increased production value—in the two years since her debut Goddess."[15] Shahzaib Hussain of Clash viewed The Altar as "more textured and artful than Goddess, BANKS growing into her role as a writer, upholding the sensual melancholia that characterised her debut."[16]

Sputnikmusic commented that "[t]he confidence on this album is inspired, observable, and the clear result of Banks' growth as a songwriter."[24] Kellan Miller of Drowned in Sound noted that Banks is "even more unfiltered and tenacious on The Altar than she was on Goddess" and that she is "perfectly comfortable in her own skin and artistic abilities, and it shows immensely on The Altar".[18] Writing for Rolling Stone, Maura Johnston concluded that "Banks' list of grievances can get wearying, but the music's dour detail is alluring too."[23] Kate Hutchinson of The Guardian described the album as "claustrophobic with try-hardness" and felt that "Banks doesn't sound empowered, she sounds stretched".[19] In a mixed review, Andrew Paschal of PopMatters expressed that "[t]he high points of The Altar are nearly perfect, but these are outnumbered by a massive middle section comprised of unremarkable, uninspired filler."[21] Katherine St. Asaph of Pitchfork found that "The Altar has a lot in common with Goddess, including its fatal flaw: its attempts to position Banks as edgy or dangerous, despite all musical evidence to the contrary."[20]

Commercial performance

The Altar debuted at number 17 on the US Billboard 200 with 14,220 copies sold in pure album sales.[25][26] The album debuted at number 24 on the UK Albums Chart, selling 3,229 copies in its first week.[27]

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Gemini Feed"
3:25
2. "Fuck with Myself" Al Shux 2:55
3. "Lovesick"
  • Banks
  • Nate Mercereau
  • Derek Taylor
  • Anderson
  • Sohn[b]
3:20
4. "Mind Games"
  • Banks
  • C. Taylor
  • Anderson
  • Sohn
  • Anderson
4:49
5. "Trainwreck"
3:24
6. "This Is Not About Us"
  • Banks
  • Natche
  • C. Taylor
  • Sohn
  • DJ Dahi[c]
3:03
7. "Weaker Girl"
  • Anderson
  • Forbes[c]
4:16
8. "Mother Earth"
  • Banks
  • Andrews
  • Anderson
  • Forbes[c]
3:56
9. "Judas"
3:56
10. "Haunt"
  • Banks
  • Natche
  • Anderson
DJ Dahi 3:42
11. "Poltergeist"
Hill 3:32
12. "To the Hilt"
  • Banks
  • C. Taylor
Sohn 4:36
Total length: 44:54

Notes

  • On physical pressings of the album, "Gemini Feed" has a length of 3:25,[15] while on the digital version, the song's length is 3:06.[28]
  • ^a signifies a vocal producer.
  • ^b signifies an additional producer.
  • ^c signifies a co-producer.

Sample credits

  • "Poltergeist" contains a sample from "Hold On Jus' a Li'l While Longer" by Sounds of Blackness.

Personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of The Altar.[29]

  • Banks – vocals, executive production
  • Tim Anderson – production (tracks 3–5, 7, 8); A&R, executive production
  • The Anmls – co-production (track 9)
  • Ben Billions – production (track 9)
  • Mario Bogatta – mix assistance (tracks 7, 11)
  • Daphne Chen – violin (track 8)
  • Rob Cohen – recording (track 11)
  • Martin Cooke – assistant mix engineering (tracks 7, 11)
  • Rich Costey – mixing (tracks 7, 11)
  • DannyBoyStyles – production (track 9)
  • Ryan Del Vecchio – A&R administration
  • DJ Dahi – production (tracks 5, 10); co-production (track 6)
  • Richard Dodd – cello (track 8)
  • Edmund Finnis – string arrangement (track 8)
  • Robin Florent – assistant mix engineering (tracks 1, 2, 4–6, 9)
  • Aron Forbes – vocal recording (tracks 2, 10); recording (tracks 4–9, 11); additional production (track 5); co-production (tracks 7, 8)
  • Nicolas Fourier – assistant mix engineering (tracks 7, 11)
  • Chris Galland – mix engineering (tracks 1, 2, 4–6, 9)
  • Eric Gorfain – violin (track 8)
  • David Helfer – business affairs
  • John Hill – production (track 11)
  • Gary Hines – arrangement (track 11)
  • Jeff Jackson – assistant mix engineering (tracks 1, 2, 4–6, 9)
  • Leah Katz – viola (track 8)
  • Leggy – mixing (tracks 3, 8)
  • Pete Lyman – mastering
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing (tracks 1, 2, 4–6, 9)
  • Sydney Nichols – design
  • Seth Perez – vocal recording assistance (tracks 1, 2, 10); recording (track 3); recording assistance (tracks 4–9)
  • Danny Schofield – recording (track 9)
  • Al Shux – production, recording (track 2)
  • Sohn – recording (track 1); production (tracks 1, 4, 6, 12); additional production (track 3); engineering, mixing (track 12)
  • Sounds of Blackness – recording (track 11)
  • Chris Spilfogel – vocal production, vocal recording (track 1); recording (tracks 5, 6, 10); string conducting (track 8)
  • Sean Tallman – mixing (track 10)
  • Thomas Whiteside – photography

Charts

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[30] 8
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[31] 44
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[32] 110
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[33] 12
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[34] 77
French Albums (SNEP)[35] 118
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[36] 56
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[37] 18
Scottish Albums (OCC)[38] 45
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[39] 38
UK Albums (OCC)[40] 24
US Billboard 200[41] 17
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[42] 9
US Top Alternative Albums (Billboard)[43] 6

References

  1. ^ Stevenson, Jane (September 30, 2016). "Banks talks 'The Altar' and getting a boost from the Weeknd". Jam!. Retrieved October 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ Brumfitt, Stuart (September 22, 2016). "Banks on The Weeknd and Being "A Weird Little Alien"". i-D. Retrieved July 25, 2017. 
  3. ^ Roth, Madeline (November 4, 2015). "BANKS Is Back And 'Better' With A Sinister New Song And Video". MTV News. Retrieved July 18, 2016. 
  4. ^ Martin, Paley (August 21, 2015). "The Weeknd Announces The Madness Fall Tour With Travi$ Scott, Halsey & Banks". Billboard. Retrieved July 18, 2016. 
  5. ^ Wass, Mike (June 8, 2016). "BANKS Finishes Recording Her Sophomore LP". Idolator. Retrieved July 18, 2016. 
  6. ^ Lee, Christina (July 30, 2016). "BANKS Reveals New Album Title & Cover Art". Idolator. Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  7. ^ "F**k with Myself – Single by Banks". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved July 30, 2016. 
  8. ^ Blistein, Jon (July 12, 2016). "Watch Banks' Defiant 'F--k With Myself' Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  9. ^ Grant, Sarah (August 2, 2016). "Hear Banks' Hypnotic, Stinging New Single 'Gemini Feed'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Gemini Feed – Single by Banks". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Mind Games – Single by Banks". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  12. ^ "To the Hilt – Single by Banks". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  13. ^ "BANKS has a nightmarish new video for 'Trainwreck'". DIY. January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "Reviews for The Altar by Banks". Metacritic. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c Yeung, Neil Z. "The Altar – Banks". AllMusic. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  16. ^ a b Hussain, Shahzaib (October 12, 2016). "BANKS – The Altar". Clash. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Milton, Jamie (September 30, 2016). "Banks – The Altar". DIY. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b Miller, Kellan (September 30, 2016). "Banks – The Altar". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Hutchinson, Kate (September 29, 2016). "Banks: The Altar review – an unconvincing 2016 pop moodboard". The Guardian. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  20. ^ a b St. Asaph, Katherine (October 12, 2016). "Banks: The Altar". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  21. ^ a b Paschal, Andrew (October 5, 2016). "Banks: The Altar". PopMatters. Retrieved October 15, 2016. 
  22. ^ a b Garner, George (November 2016). "Q Review: New Albums". Q. No. 365. p. 102. ISSN 0955-4955. 
  23. ^ a b Johnston, Maura (September 30, 2016). "Review: Banks Rides Nervy Beats Into Heart of Darkness on 'The Altar'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  24. ^ a b "Banks – The Altar". Sputnikmusic. September 30, 2016. Retrieved October 4, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Billboard 200: The Week of October 22, 2016". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Building Album Sales Chart". Hits Daily Double. Archived from the original on October 8, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2016. 
  27. ^ Jones, Alan (October 7, 2016). "Official Charts Analysis: James Arthur holds top spot in singles chart". Music Week. Retrieved October 7, 2016. (Subscription required (help)). 
  28. ^ a b "The Altar by Banks". iTunes Store (US). Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  29. ^ The Altar (CD liner notes). Banks. Harvest Records. 2016. 2547762979. 
  30. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Banks – The Altar". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  31. ^ "Ultratop.be – Banks – The Altar" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  32. ^ "Ultratop.be – Banks – The Altar" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  33. ^ "Banks Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  34. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Banks – The Altar" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 7, 2016.
  35. ^ "Lescharts.com – Banks – The Altar". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  36. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Banks – The Altar" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  37. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Banks – The Altar". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  38. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  39. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Banks – The Altar". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  40. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  41. ^ "Banks Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  42. ^ "Banks Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
  43. ^ "Banks Chart History (Top Alternative Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
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