The Altar

Banks - The Altar
Critic Score
Based on 23 reviews
2016 Ratings: #655 / 926
User Score
Based on 361 ratings
2016 Ratings: #228
Liked by 7 people
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The Altar is not an album that needs any context; what Banks has crafted here is an even-handed mix of tight electro igniters and slow-burning passages into her head and bed, each move lined with the same brooding R&B-tinged exposition that has come to characterize her sound.


Whether destroying an ex or empowering herself, Banks has strengthened her voice -- resolutely and with increased production value -- in the two years since her debut Goddess.

‘The Altar’ is very close to being a razor-sharp pop blueprint. Don’t bet against her striking pure gold next time round.
Drowned in Sound

Banks is perfectly comfortable in her own skin and artistic abilities, and it shows immensely on The Altar.

The Line of Best Fit
Killer hooks, plus a real clarity and a “no fucks given” attitude make it an irresistible listen that’ll have you ready to take on the world.
No Ripcord

The Altar is an accomplishment. There’s much more happening, but its tighter and fuller, filling in the most glaring gaps left by Goddess. Banks is comfortable in her own skin: visually, sonically, and emotionally. It’s by no means perfect, but it is her personal triumph.


‘The Altar’ is more textured and artful than ‘Goddess’, BANKS growing into her role as a writer, upholding the sensual melancholia that characterised her debut. Yet, it still feels as if BANKS is fine-tuning her sound.

Consequence of Sound

None of the material on The Altar will revolutionize alt R&B, future soul, or whatever awkward label one might apply to this nebulous genre. What is here, though, is proof of an artist still searching for a new direction.

The Guardian
Nothing is sacred, sure, but such a 2016 musical moodboard hardly inspires devotion.
Rolling Stone

This idea of sabotage from all sides – including within – defines the electro-pop diva's second LP, which pairs her whisper-to-a-scream vocal range with jangled-nerve electronics.


This sophomore effort builds off her debut, but loses the plot in a mass of electronic blackness and vague grievances.


The high points of The Altar are nearly perfect, but these are outnumbered by a massive middle section comprised of unremarkable, uninspired filler.


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.

The Needle Drop
Banks returns with another underwhelming album.
Banks lays down some seductive, but empowered alt-R&B jams on The Altar. The production on this album is great, and the subtle way Jillian Banks’ vocals are layered are a good way to really accentuate her melodies. It’s especially easier to appreciate after the listening to the frustrating, vocoder-laden, fuzzed-out production of III.

Highlights: Gemini Feed, Trainwreck, This Is Not About Us, Mother Earth, 27 Hours
This album is a masterpiece. I love almost every track, except for my "least faves". One of my faves all time albums. Sounds so rough but deep. So many great elements on this album.

FAVE TRACKS: Trainwreck, Gemini Feed, Mother Earth, Fuck with Myself, Judas, This Is Not About Us, Lovesick, Mind Games.

LEAST FAVES: Haunt, Poltergeist, To the Hilt.
This is a very entertaining album which consists of really great openers like "Fuck With Myself," "Mindgames," and "Trainwreck." Sadly, these amazing songs are not interspersed throughout the album, making the latter half slightly less appealing, but still well enough to stand on its own. This album also makes one more slightly fatal mistake in that it kinda sticks to the sound of "Goddess" albeit being darker and sultry in terms of sonic theme and ... read more
Featuring some of her most eruptive choruses and best grooves, 'The Altar' is an alternative R&B-tinged electro-pop manifesto, boasting some of the California-based singer-songwriter's most confident sounds and lyrics. Compared to debut album 'Goddess', Banks sounds like the same woman, but more resilient. "Trainwreck", an album highlight, features direct trip hop influences, with exciting rapped verses and an explosive, head-banging chorus. Album opener "Gemini Feed" ... read more
basically your daily reminder that no man is good enough to take you to the altar.

favourites: poltergeist, lovesick, trainwreck, gemini feed, mind games
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Added on: July 30, 2016