It's easy to understand why Jillian Banks is so frequently grouped with the burgeoning avant-R&B movement. Her debut album, like the pair of EPs she's released so far, is full of the murky electronics and jittery, off-kilter rhythms that define that style, and her singing does have an R&B-ish bent. Really, though, she's more of a straight-up pop artist, just with darker-than-average tastes. Goddess opens strong with ''Alibi''(produced by Christopher Taylor, who makes fantastic future-soul music under the name Sohn). It's a narcotic slow jam with a churning bass line, fidgety programmed percussion, and manipulated vocal samples, but the part she sings bracingly direct and just a tiny bit torchy would work equally well paired with a bubbly EDM beat.
Banks' sonic ambition and willingness to risk alienating a pop audience with Goddess' gloomy, tweaky beats are admirable. (They also make for a great headphone experience.) But ironically, the album's most arresting moment is also its most conventional. ''You Should Know Where I'm Coming From'' has a dead-simple arrangement just vocals, piano, strings, and drums that's an ideal setting for her rawly emotional lyrics and strongest melody yet. The other songs may be more fashionable, but this one fits her best. B+