Patti Smith's lyrical tone and meter are the main instruments that drive her 11th album. But it's her longtime band that offers the diverse settings for the 65-year-old singer-songwriter's rich language — notably on Banga's mid-record trio featuring a punky revolutionary cry (the title track, with Television's Tom Verlaine on guitar), an intoxicating sitar-driven dip into raga-psych ("Mosaic"), and cinematic, space-faring free jazz ("Tarkovsky [The Second Stop Is Jupiter]"). The album starts slow, but the penultimate song — the epic 10-minute narrative "Constantine's Dream" — comes on like the high-relief world of 300 recast as an American fever dream. By the time Banga closes with a wonderful and faithful cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush," you realize that Smith is still one hell of a force. — Chris Parker
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