FKA Twigs


A mixtape full of collaborations with The Weeknd, Arca, Jorja Smith, Pa Salieu and Shygirl sees FKA twigs experimenting with different styles, but still sounding unmistakably herself, finds Liam Inscoe-Jones

For an artist who has released only two albums over the course of eight years, calling something a ‘mixtape’ instead of an album or EP can feel like a statement of intent. It signals CAPRISONGS as a place for FKA twigs to think less, try new styles, and make tunes that can be vogued to, partied to or played with. My fear was that testing the waters with a dozen new styles would mean jettisoning the parts of twigs’ music which make her work so special. I should have known better.

CAPRISONGS is light on its feet and more accessible than her tricksier electronic work but, whether she’s delivering dancehall, hip-house, afrobeat or drill, almost all of these are songs which could only have twigs’ name on them – take the glitchy, snatched vocals on ‘ride the dragon’ or the elegiac harp at the end of ‘lightbeamers’, mixed among the sub-bass and the hi-hats.

CAPRISONGS is a testament to twigs’ voice, which has long broken out of that one mode of eerie breathiness. Here she’s almost spitting alongside Pa Salieu on ‘honda’, and bouncing around the dancehall chaos of the Shygirl-assisted ‘papi bones’ like she was born to be there. Plenty of twigs songs build to ecstatic melodies, as on ‘oh my love’, but only on CAPRISONGS can that climax arrive at something akin to The Ting Tings. That being said, it seems that even when cutting loose, she has a hard time not committing something of poignancy to tape, like on ‘meta angel’ where she sings softly, "I’ve got a love for desire / I’ve got a pain for desire."

It feels odd to say that this record is more personal, given just how intimate LP1 and MAGDALENE were. But twigs at least allows herself to be seen in a new light here. On the latter, she was wrapped in the biblical and mythological, and on her debut, well, some of us thought she actually was an alien. On CAPRISONGS, she’s a Londoner. She’s lurking at track-meets to pull boys, she’s hanging out in Crystal Palace and Croydon, she’s slagging off men with her mates, and crying in the club. It may be less bewitching, but seeing an alien unmasked is its own kind of thrill.

Which brings us to mixtapes again. They’re meant to be loosies, releases of the off-season… but why are they so fun? Instead of her two monolithic albums, twigs cites CAPRISONGS as the record which helped her to rediscover herself in the wake of an excruciatingly public abusive relationship. Twigs has always felt like a lonely figure in her art but here, next to artists like Jorja Smith and Unknown T, she sounds like she’s surrounded by friends. She’s made no secret of the fact that this music was made for them.

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