fkatwigs

Right now, there’s a lot of music floating about that sounds a bit like FKA Twigs; slow, glitchy electronic beats, silky smooth vocals fused together with nocturnal melancholia. It’s sometimes got a touch of late-90s Aaliyah-like minimal R&B and it’s the sound of Sasha Keable, Alpines, Billie Black, Oceaán, Jessie Ware – it’s basically the sound of the noughteens. It’s also on the verge of being overcooked, like a dry old chicken.

Luckily for London-based artist FKA Twigs, she’s in no danger of sounding like a chicken and although this debut album sounds like much of the above, it’s hard to deny that she possesses quite a bit extra. Her falsetto is truly astonishing and the layering of her voice in many of the tracks makes for a deeply rich sound. She also frequently, and almost surprisingly (for somebody billed as the future sound of R&B), sounds exactly like ‘Sensual World’-era Kate Bush. And like Bush, her voice is both mystical and sexual, moving between powerful and breathy in the length of a line. She, too, uses space in her songs as an instrument. It sounds like something crafted on Venus itself.

Lyrically, she is directly sexual and bewitching. “When I trust you we can do it with the lights on,” she sings in second track ‘Lights On’, a song constructed with disembodied beats and beautiful pauses. “My thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in,” she sings in ‘Two Weeks’, a brilliantly filthy and lavishly pop-sounding track that could easily be the best on ‘LP1’. Although, you do get the impression that this is the kind of album that will reveal a different favourite on each new listening of it.

It’s also coherent as an entire piece. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the fact that ‘albums are dead’. Apparently, in an era in which digitalism rules everything and people only listen to Spotify, we should be more engaged with playlists instead. However, ‘LP1’ is best experienced in its entirety, as an album. From the densely layered, sweeping melodies of ‘Pendulum’ to the skeletal, Portishead-like beats of ‘Numbers’, it’s a lucid record in its disparities, like a mosaic made of mirrors. To chop it up and inject it into playlists would be like showing just one section of a painting.

Needless to say, FKA Twigs’ ‘LP1’ is an exceptional debut. Spellbinding and artful from the off, she manages to tap into something in her mid-twenties that not many people manage in a lifetime.

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