If you don’t know who Banks is yet, you should learn.
The Californian singer songwriter just got a song called “Crowded Places” featured on the penultimate episode of Season 6 of Girls. Described by Banks as a “shoutout to social anxiety and falling in love”, the song was the perfect soundtrack for Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath as she took stock of her life. Driving away from New York, towards a new life and teaching career, Hannah sang along to Banks’s latest, marking the show’s most perfect musical (or romantic) marriage to date.
Banks isn’t new and, like a lot of fans, I fell in love early on, with her EPs, “London” and “Fall Over”. I digested her first album, Goddess, quickly, the second it came out. Tracks like “Waiting Game” and “Beggin’ For Thread” soundtracked my life, gave me incantations to rely on in lieu of Jesus (the most boring boyfriend ever). The aptly titled second album, The Altar, saw Banks building her empire higher, even in an overcrowded R&B and electropop landscape.
It’s obvious to say, but live, Banks is flawless. In March 2017, I saw her on tour at Roundhouse in London, flanked by twin dancers who it was impossible to look away from. The fevered audience screamed as Banks came to the stage, and chanted lyrics like prayers. It was religious like Bible study, but it meant something, because Banks’s lyrics aren’t filler.
“Crowded Places” is a great fit for Girls because, as always, Banks skirts complicated emotions without dropping a stitch. “What Will We Do This Time About Adam?” (Season 6, Episode 8) broke a million millennial hearts, by revealing that Hannah can’t easily eat betrayal like Communion bread. But Episode 9 was quasi-empowering, as Hannah’s chose to leave the city, and her ever-evolving friendships, behind. Banks’s lyrics were the exact Dear Diary entry an eager but devastated Girls fan needed.
From statements like, “I know you see me as a frantic girl”, to the refrain, “I’ve been scared of crowded places”, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect track to accompany Hannah’s move out of the city.
Every Banks song is scripture, intent on leaving a mark, sewing up muscle and heart. She’s the soundtrack to every shitty thing that’s happened to me, and the pain layers in her lyrics help me to forge forward. Banks documents every blood drop so I don’t have to. Girls is ending, but this better be the start for Jillian Rose Banks.
Amy Mackelden is an Entertainment Writer at Bustle, and co-editor of Clarissa Explains Fuck All. She’s written for heat magazine, New Statesman, Kinkly, The Independent online, xoJane, Ravishly, and Hello Giggles.
Her new show, MS Is My Boyfriend, is funded by Arts Council England. She’s a recipient of the Artists’ International Development Fund, and is currently working on #SQUADGOALS with Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary artist Elizabeth Grammaticas.