FKA Twigs’ new album is art pop at its finest
After four long, album-less years, FKA Twigs released her much-anticipated project, Magdalene on Nov. 8.
A professional singer and songwriter, Twigs is revered for her avant-garde style. Her performances are grand and sublime, and her music is known for its genre-bending qualities.
Magdalene is short and sweet, or rather, quite indulgent. Consisting of only nine songs, it is her first “full-length” record since releasing LP1 in 2014.
This album has been critically received as her best work yet, and is in my opinion, a complete game-changer. It’s unsparing and unrelentless, and Twigs fully delivers on each song.
Magdalene narrates a story of heartbreak and doesn’t let up until the closing notes of “cellophane,” the album’s first single.
The titular song, “Magdalene” invokes images of the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene, known for being a devout follower and confidante to Jesus. She was historically misinterpreted to be a prostitute, and Twigs plays with this idea in the song.
In an interview with ID magazine, Twigs says “I used to laugh to myself about how, as a woman, your story is often attached to the narrative of a man. No matter what you’re doing or how great your work is, sometimes it’s as though you have to be attached to a man to be validated… I found a lot of power in the story of Mary Magdalene; a lot of dignity, a lot of grace, a lot of inspiration.”
In my own listening of the song, I was reminder of the Madonna vs “whore” complex, where women are often compartmentalized as one or the other. Twigs flips this narrative on its head, singing, “I can lift you higher/I do it like Mary Magdalene/I’m what you desire.”
Throughout the length of the album, her voice is transformative and acrobatic, taking on multiple shapes and sounds to create the final beautiful result;
The album uses organic sounds and instruments, namely on “Sad Day” and “Daybed” through the use of the violin and piano, but doesn’t shy away from digital elements of music, either.
“Holy Terrain” is the only song on the album with a feature, from rapper Future nonetheless, and at first, his placement on the track seems unexpected.
The use of trap beats is almost out of place, but the content of the song still resonates with the rest of the album. It’s easily the most fun and energetic song on the album, yet is still sonically fluid.
The music video for “Holy Terrain” is dark and moody, and her choreographed movements invoke serpent imagery, working thematically with the other biblical references in the album.
Her music is, quite literally, extraterrestrial. The sixth song on the album, and easily my favourite is “Fallen Alien,” which tells the story of someone who feels foreign, or more accurately, otherworldly.
“Fallen Alien” a pointed example of the amazing production that went into this album.
It contains a sample from a Mass gospel choir which is on par with the other Christian allusions in the album, yet the guttural chanting of “I feel the lightning blast,” is hellish and full of desperate hunger.
I feel that a lot of the times, artists will fall into the same trap of producing music that sounds completely the same year after year, but with this album Twigs has created a piece that diverges from her original sound, yet still resonates with her persona.
Although her most recent album is definitely alternative and electronic inspired — widely considered to be “art pop” — it also features collaborations from Michael Uzowuru, Future and Kenny Beats, all notable figures in the hip hop canon.
Magdalene is neurotic and mesmerizing. More so than she’s ever been, FKA Twigs is vocally and emotionally expressive on this project.