“FKA Twigs? Who?” After listening to her stunning debut LP1, you’re gonna want to know.
FKA Twigs was a fixture in the internet/indie music scene last year after her notably remarkable EP1 that dropped in the fall of 2013. Her adequately titled fifteen-minute extended play had all the makings of something great—great sonics, amazing, raw vocals, and stunning visuals to go hand in hand with each and every song on the project. The music component is definitely there. However, in the music industry of 2014, there seems to be an equal amount of weight on the scale of relevance in the favour of “personality”. It is a very important quality to be transparent to a certain degree, to have a fan base relate to you more because of words outside of music, through seemingly necessary mediums such as video interviews, radio and publication interviews, and of course, concerts. With FKA Twigs, though, I couldn’t find a single video interview, or any interview for that matter, and barely found footage from live shows. Let’s assume her as the exception.
Artists that create a buzz around an enigmatic persona don’t come very often—the last two in recent memory have been The Weeknd and Captain Murphy. The Weeknd, even with a great first project and a lack of publicity only really started to gain buzz and acclaim after the very sought-after, fabled Drake co-sign. Captain Murphy, on the other hand, gained traction and looks because his first song had production from Flying Lotus and a feature from Earl Sweatshirt (Also the fact that people knew it was an alter-ego of someone helped. Shoutout FlyLo.) However it’s worth noting that any ounce of FKA Twigs’ publicity or traction and support from any websites or blogs is genuinely from pure acclaim and appreciation. Going through archives of her first ever looks from blogs and websites, it’s really been an organic experience, and even with the appreciation of her amazingly beautiful and lush visuals, it seems to be a reaction where it generally starts and ends with the art.
With that being said, let’s come right out and say it: LP1 is an emotional, powerful, exceptional exercise in synth-based R&B. Lyrically, it delves into the physical attractions of lust and love, and all the emotions and feelings that bleed from it. The lead single “Two Weeks” is a perfect example—a flushed, lusty ballad in raw falsetto expressing her efforts to court a man with a buzzing, sharp instrumental courtesy of Barnett and industry-god Emile. Throughout LP1, the production and it’s cohesive, motion-picture like fluidness is very obvious. A shower of waning synths with skipping and stuttering drums sets the tone for this ambient, spacious record early with the intense “Preface” going right into “Lights On”; the bare, minimalist James Blake or Bon Iver-friendly sound shines through on songs like “Hours” and “Give Up”. FKA Twigs is as dynamic yet fluent as ever, a quality music listeners can only pray for on a debut.
Lyrically, LP1 only tells as much as it needs to. There is nothing extravagant about Twigs’ writing style or choices, but her vocal delivery is just that unique and breathtaking that she could literally be singing the five-dollar footlong theme from Subway and it’d still be somehow be as alluring and graceful as ever. Tracks like “Pendulum” though seem to use this minimalist approach and make it powerful, as her lyrics may seem cryptic and even confusing but the emotion behind every word and the sonic risks being taken definitely make it a standout track. “Video Girl” poses as a perfect synergy of vocal and instrumental balance, as she is never saying too much, and the instrumentation behind her is never doing too little. Thematically, she shoulder-checks her past as being employed as a music-video model, and revisits her vapid, dry reputation as people ask “Was she the girl from the video?/Stop, stop lying to me” and she blatantly admits at the end of the record, “I can’t recognize me”.
LP1 serves not only as a brilliant introduction to an artist, but tells a multi-dimensional story in such emotional depth that creates the illusion by the end of the record that we’ve known her for quite some time. She seems to be an old soul in a new outfit, in the best way possible. Not only is the record promising, it feels as if she has already mastered her own territory and is finding a perfect, uninhabited space in music to exist in. Through the seamlessly integrated splashes of pop, punk, and even country melodies all across what is being framed as an “Alternative R&B” record, FKA Twigs is definitely venturing into a land that has very few footprints. Twigs, though, has been very vocal about her distaste of the genre and label of “Alternative R&B”, but it should be said that whatever trailblazing, refreshing musical lane The Weeknd and Frank Ocean somewhat pioneered, I think we have finally found a suitable, exceptional first lady.