Review Summary: With a solid debut, FKA twigs cements herself as an artist to look out for within the R&B and Trip Hop community.
In 2012, FKA Twigs, AKA: Tahliah Barnett, set the scene in a flailing R&B and Trip Hop community with EP1. This was an EP that, while being was a nice collection of tracks, remained an ill focussed effort on the whole but showcased some fresh potential. In the following year, she released another EP labelled EP2, which was much more developed than her previous EP, with songs such as "Water Me", and showcased what the young artist was capable of. So with these EPs under her belt, who knows what she would have done for her debut album? An agonising year later, LP1 has arrived to finally answer some of the long awaited questions fans had about Twigs, such as "What else could FKA twigs have up her sleeves?".
It's almost impossible to tie down Twigs' sound to a specific genre, for starters. The use of slow beats and sample heavy electronics makes it somewhat Trip Hop, whilst Twigs' voice is distinctly that of R&B nature. Not to also forget the thick, swirling electronics that make the atmosphere that lends a hand from Dream Pop. The result of all this? A sounds that's slow, brooding and atmospheric that relies on its icy cold yet lush textures just as much as Twigs' soothing and charming vocals. This is none other than exemplified from the first second with track "Preface", which hosts disorientating samples and electronic layers all under Twigs' reverb heavy vocals that are often cut up, modulated and thrown back into the mix to harmonise and overlap with the leading melody. This disorientating experience is, however, limited to the first track. Instead, the other tracks breath more easily and employs a more subtle touch that progresses from the sounds of EP2.
Twigs ingenuity is at her best when she finds the balance between emotion in her voice and in the electronics. Tracks such as "Pendulum" and "Kicks" find this balance effortlessly to stand tall amongst its peer tracks. Both are very emotionally heavy and can easily be heard through the soft and heartfelt vocals, such as "So lonely trying to be yours, when you're looking for so much more"
on the former. Other tracks knock on the door to get into this balance, such as "Two Weeks" and "Hours" but ultimately don't achieve the same high that "Pendulum" or "Kicks" achieves.
One thing that this album does profusely without fail is the electronics. At certain points, they dance and twinkle and at other times they're a thick, dark beat that resonates in the background, such as "Video Girl", which samples what sounds like a creaking door as a beat. As well as they are done, they don't completely make up an album and the actual flaws end up being with Twigs herself. Some melodies just don't come off as anything other than boring or uninspired or sometimes it just doesn't gel with the electronics. A prime example of this is "Numbers", where the beats present themselves as very dark and almost sinister, but Twigs' melodies sound an inch too upbeat for the beats and it just doesn't work. This happens on several other tracks too, like "Closer" and "Give Up". Whilst the actual components that make up each song are very strong, the bringing together of them is poor and parts sound out of place. With this is mind, it's hard to overlook the songs that they could have been.
In the end, Twigs achieves something that her sound was always working towards. Rather than throwing out raw ideas that lack cohesion as a whole, she successfully pulls together an album that feels solid and well thought out. Despite the fact that some tracks aren't as pulled off as well as they could have been, it's more than easy to omit them for the wonderful tracks that do everything right. It's clear from this point onwards that Twigs has found her desired sound and it only makes what this young woman can do in the future something to look out for.