By David Chiu
Banga is the punk poet’s first new album of original material since 2004’s Trampin’, and it furthers on her powerful words accompanied by dynamic electric rock. Musical and lyrically, Banga is diverse beginning with the driving and eloquent “Amerigo,” referencing the journey of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci; “April Fool” is a charming, youthful upbeat love song; and “This is the Girl,” written with Amy Winehouse in mind, has a ‘50s/’60s styled soulful pop sensibility—they complement spirited rockers such as “Fuji-san” and the title track. There’s also a mystical and spiritual quality that permeates throughout the record, especially in the ten-minute, art-centered epic “Constantine’s Dream,” the folky “Mosaic” and “Seneca,” and “Nine,” which was penned for Johnny Depp and highlighted by some soaring guitar work. A very tender rendition of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” juxtaposes Smith’s vocals with that of children’s, concluding the song and ending the record on a hopeful note. Banga album is just another solid benchmark of Smith’s already legendary body of work.