Over five years have passed since FKA twigs’ debut record. Following the release of LP1 the British entertainer received a flurry of praise. And deservedly so. Her breathy, intimate vocals and alien sonic palette made for truly exciting music. Only one of the producers from that album make an appearance here, however, other than twigs herself. Fans of her debut may find themselves scratching their heads. MAGDALENE is a whole new direction. She channels her heartbreak through an art-pop lens. The resonant instrumentals of songs prior shift to a more raw approach. This album highlights FKA’s voice more than ever. The tension between each lyric is thick enough to slice. “mirrored heart” struck me the most. “But I’m never gonna give up/Though I’m probably gonna think about you all the time/And for the lovers who found a mirrored heart/They just remind me I’m without you.”
Proficient balladry such as this gives me hope for future FKA twigs albums. Additionally, “sad day,” the final single ahead of the album’s official release, is a song of which I cannot get enough. I’ve had it on repeat since it dropped. Its production is lush and intricate. Stars like Benny Blanco, Nicolas Jaar, and yes, even Skrillex combine for a sound unique to the English songstress. No one else could have put together a melancholy banger like this. Other tender moments on this album such as lead single “cellophane” and opener “thousand eyes” make MAGDALENE an exotic flower of an album. Nevertheless, I do chalk it up as a sizable disappointment for me. While I appreciate many of the musical elements presented here, the final product as a whole underwhelms in terms of memorable material. As I stated before, twigs’ voice takes on a majority of the spotlight.
Unfortunately her vocal performances are not a high point here. Although these tracks feature bare sections throughout, a bulk of them feel overproduced and cluttered. And with a mere nine tracks in total I left this album dissatisfied for the most part. She is a skilled artist with ambitious ideas and a thirst for the unknown. I respect the hell out of FKA twigs. Her live-performance prowess rivals that of a Travis Scott or Tyler, the Creator. Going to a twigs concert is an experience. Yet without all the flash and atmosphere, when stripped to its core, MAGDALENE suffers from a bit of identity crisis. She no longer sounds completely different from her contemporaries. Rather she appears here as a slightly more refined tier-two music star. Also, the inclusion of Future on “holy terrain” makes little sense. As an empowered feminist twigs is no stranger to feminine exaltation.
Yet she teams up with one of hip-hop’s biggest misogynists to date. She allows him to croon about his past romantic ineptitude, knowing damn well his next single will likely speak on the fact that he gives no fucks about these hoes. I enjoy Future’s music as much as the next 27 year-old rap fan. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting another artist speak their peace on a record. However, Future has no plans on changing his behavior any time soon. Feel free to put me on blast if this changes. I digress. For every quality aspect MAGDALENE exhibits a lackluster one takes its place, tempering the album to pretty-good status. Still, FKA twigs’ less-than-ideal work is worlds more artful than a large percentage of mainstream acts. I simply wish five years of waiting amounted to something more enthralling.