Words About Music
FKA twigs “LP1”
This year’s biggest buzz artist is one that, surprisingly enough, is worthy of hype. Tahliah Barnett is a singer, producer, and dancer from the UK that started out dancing in music videos for the likes of Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, and Kylie Minogue. Not content with being known as “that girl from the music videos,” she started recording music under the name Twigs. She dropped her first EP in late 2012, after which she rebranded herself as FKA twigs (formerly known as twigs) for legal reasons. She dropped another EP, “EP2,” solidifying her hype in a world where we constantly crave new stimulation from new artists. When her first single from her debut album dropped, though, the hype was unimaginable. “Two Weeks” is a sexy, intricate, and excellently produced song unlike almost anything we’ve heard all year. It’s as much an electronic album as it is an R&B album, with a lot of the focus on the production.
There are a lot of obvious influences present on this album. You can hear the glitchy off-kilter drums of Aphex Twin and Flying Lotus, the sensual vocal stylings of Sade and Aaliyah, the murky synths of The Weeknd, the labyrinthine lyrical stylings of Radiohead, and the trip hop flavors of Massive Attack and Portishead. It’s a very layered album that wears its influences proudly while also remaining a distinguished member of the recent indie R&B boom. To my knowledge, there’s no artist out right now that sounds like FKA twigs, and if there are, they’re not pulling it off nearly as well. While I wouldn’t say that “LP1” is perfectly executed, everything is in its right place for the most part.
One of my favorite qualities about this album is something I find in all my favorite albums: repeat listenings are rewarding. Ever wonder why I love Slint and Kanye and LCD Soundsystem and Godspeed You! Black Emperor so much? Those artists are all amazing, but the more I listen to their music the more intricacies and obscurities I discover in the music. FKA twigs offers the same rewards. Every time I listen to “LP1” I hear a synth phrase or a lyric or a beat switch that I didn’t hear before. There’s so many ideas and so much to pay attention to, but the album never feels busy or full of itself. It feels just right. Some people on the internet are saying that people are praising “LP1” because they feel like they have to, but I think people are praising this album because it’s creative, thought-provoking, retrospective, and current. “LP1” feels perfect for its time and I hope it ages as well as Frank Ocean will.
Calling FKA twigs an R&B artist isn’t necessarily wrong, but there are so many different styles on here that labeling it R&B is simplifying a complex record. “LP1” won’t be for everyone, I think, and it may not be as different or perfect as certain publications may have you to believe, but it’s a pretty great album. It’s 40 minutes long, doesn’t overstay its welcome, and is emotionally and culturally significant. While I won’t praise it as highly as I would How to Dress Well’s latest album or Frank Ocean’s upcoming album (please come soon), I do think that “LP1” is one of the best albums to come about this year. It may be filled to the brim with popular tropes lyrically, but sonically it’s an adventure that I can see myself listening to well into the future.
SCORE – 8.7
FAVORITE TRACKS – Preface, Lights On, Two Weeks, Hours, Video Girl, Numbers, Closer, Give Up, Kicks