wed 19/06/2019

CD: FKA Twigs - LP1 | reviews, news & interviews

CD: FKA Twigs - LP1

CD: FKA Twigs - LP1

Highly mannered high-tech R&B from the young Brit, but can it touch the soul too?

FKA Twigs: 'the style is the substance'

Just in case anyone thought the hype surrounding Gloucestershire-born Spanish/Jamaican singer FKA Twigs was based only on her unique looks, startling styling and slightly silly videos, this album begins with her voice alone. It too is utterly singular, a choirboy-like chant layered over itself like some New Age confection, before the sci-fi whirrs and booms of "Preface" remind us that we're in the currently hyper-fashionable territory of reconfiguring US R&B through the prism of British soundsystem music post-dubstep and grime.

That voice is way upfront in the mix throughout this album. Of course, for a record whose aesthetic is as high-tech as this, it is processed and glitched here and there, but even allowing for the studio gloss, and even allowing for how mannered Twigs's style is, you can hear its personality shine through. When she leaps into higher registers, as on “Two Weeks” and “Video Girl”, there are similarities to sometime labelmate Jessie Ware's 1980s-inspired grown-up pop ballads. At other points you can hear the quirks of Björk, and throughout there are nods to the velvet tone of the late R&B superstar Aaliyah, but all these are subsumed into her own sound.

The control she has over her singing, and the amount of detail the sparkling production allows, creates something that is paradoxically intimate but alien. Like the music of Kraftwerk, you're hearing the voice of machines as much as of humans, and Twigs's voice is as cyborg as any of the subsonic throb or flickers of electronic percussion – yet that very inhumanity is part of what gives the record its emotional charge. This is a record you can enter into, its structures feeling architectural as much as musical, and Twigs's seductions and alienations provide more than enough intrigue to keep you coming back. It is very stylish indeed, but in this case the style is the substance: idea and execution are one and the same, creating an incredibly coherent end result.

The control and detail create something that is paradoxically intimate but alien

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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