Review Summary: FKA Twig reaches her full potential with one of the most poignant and grand albums of this decade.
I have a great deal of respect for FKA Twigs – even though I’d say in the past some of her music is rather questionable in quality. When she develops a piece – it isn’t just a song – it is a film, it is a dance, it is a story and a movement. Her most recent release M3LL155X saw her take this narrative to ambitious new territory featuring an artistic short-film to accompany the album filled with both seductive, gruesome and otherworldly imagery. She is a holistic artist in the truest of sense.
Magdalene takes everything from FKA Twig’s past work and builds on it to make for her best release yet. This album opens with an eerie chant-like song, that is equally as soothing as unnerving. ‘If I walk out the door’ she repeats over and over as the music swells and sways between incoherent worry and affirmative declaration. This is an album that is not afraid to make you uncomfortable. Following on the ‘dark’ R&B trends of the 2010’s ala The Weekend’s trilogy, Magdalene is sweltering and seductive, it takes familiar ideas and paints them in lush, grand production.
FKA Twig’s returns with her familiar crooning, however this time around there is a lot more variation in the tone. Instrumentally the production value is higher than ever, while past FKA Twigs albums focused primarily on her voice as a means to present atmosphere – Magdalene feels much more coherent and complete. On this record you’ll find thunderous bass, crashing drums and odd-end instruments such as harps showing up. This is a full-on production, using all of these tools, Twigs is able to much more precisely present the emotions of her music.
The lyrics here can often be cliché at first glance – however, the depth of this album should not be taken at face value. Everything here is about presentation, FKA Twigs doesn’t just sing about missing someone – she croons over sweltering, panicking synths, the words are merely your light in the dark to guide you through this maze of intense emotional highs and lows. Magdalene is a success because it is more than the sum of its part.
There are a large number of influences on this album but one of the most notable is Tori Amos. Like Tori’s best work – this album is beautiful, it is personal, it is seductive, even scary and uncomfortable at times. The vast number of emotions explored on this album in its short run time and the coherence it is presented in is nothing short of extraordinary. This album feels impassioned in the same way that Little Earthquakes was all those years ago, but with a modern coat of paint and even more ambition.