This ‘FKA Twigs’ article was written by Joe Thompson, a GIGsoup contributor
Since emerging to the mainstream with 2014’s LP1 (having already released an EP in 2012 to a more underground scene) London based songwriter and experimental prodigy FKA Twigs has captivated mass critics and audiences alike with her obscure lyrics, progressive sounds and large incorporation of visual art to music.
Now, the artist brings us her latest EP; four tracks accompanied by a 16 minute short film. Entitled ‘M3LL155X’, or ‘Melissa’, it shows signs of being her most ambitious project yet.
The opening track ‘Figure 8’ introduces us with a snarling bass line and offset drums. It doesn’t take long before Twigs delivers her soft, floating vocals that contrast with the harder, mechanical music. The lines ‘I am an angel/ My back wings give the hardest slap that you’ve ever seen‘ seem to describe the track as well as her own empowerment. Her soulful voice soon becomes overshadowed with effects that disturb and distort, but without sounding uncontrolled. As the lyrics begin to describe a female empowerment, she directly addresses us to pay attention to the rest of the tracks when she finishes with the words ‘hush now‘. It makes us feel like we’re in her territory, and must abide by her rules.
‘I Am Your doll’, takes Twigs’ themes up another notch. It’s certainly her most explicit statement of the EP, and she objectifies herself so loudly that the lyrics in turn show a woman oppressed and confined in a relationship. The contrasts between her instructing us to ‘hush now‘ previously, and now saying that she’s essentially inanimate prove to show an uneasy and frustrated character, which in turn makes for a highly intense experience. She admits her frustrations by saying ‘I feel like a loaded gun‘, and it isn’t long after that the music explodes into a frenzy of super-compressed bass, and industrial sounding grinds of synthesizers. Twigs’ voice remains controlled whilst inconsistent layers of sounds shatter around it, resembling crumbling masculine society that is distorted for the objectification of women. It’s a bold statement, and delivered maturely by Twigs.
‘In Time’ is the first track to show a sound closer to pop. Twigs’ voice is clear, almost to an overly purposeful degree. It’s also the first time we hear a distinct London accent, and she talks about ‘clubs‘ and ‘raves‘. In comparison to the two tracks prior, it is perhaps more musically anal, but Twigs still gives splashes of vocal effects and subtle textures that deter it from being a strictly ‘normal’ sounding song. It is understandable that she puts this track on the EP in order to bring us back to a reality, even if it does tone the intensity down.
‘Glass and Patron’, throws us back into Twigs’ more disturbing envisions, and quickly states ‘double knot my throat, mother‘. The song, to Twigs, is about putting pain into your creativity, and she sums it up well with the line ‘Teach yourself to rise from ashes built by lust and hurt‘. The music regains it bass filled snarls, and Twigs continues to contrast in music and lyrics her exterior, elegant perception with a hard, disturbing truth of hurt. This track throws the listener around with sounds isolated in one section of the speaker, before melting across to somewhere else. It’s Twigs at her most ambitious, and most productive.
The short film accompanying the music is full of encapsulating imagery (watch this above). The most brilliant of these was in ‘I Am Your Doll’, to which she is the head of a literal plastic sex doll, and being forced to intercourse by a man. Her later cartoonistic voguing is a double metaphor that reflects both a society pressuring both women to try hard to be beautiful, and for artists to always be their musical characters. Twigs’ love of incorporating visual art with music is clear, and the videos seam together her theme of being a woman in a relationship, and conquering the struggles of social conformities. It appears that she’s taking the politics of relationships, and making metaphors of things that are literal; she is a sex doll or she only knows how to look at someone by voguing. Her juxtaposition of what is perceived and what is real only defines that they are a ridiculous opposites accepted by society.
Her music detaches from mainstream sounds, whilst retaining the control and assurance that let it touch the borders of pop music. FKA Twigs is keen to show her experimental prowess, as well as letting her music and art deliver powerful statements about the politics of relationships. This EP is a must for those wanting to detach from what they know about modern pop, and put their faith in someone who’s moving the sound forward.
‘M3LL155X’ is out now on Young Turks Recordings