Intricate and calculated, the name of this album is production. This isn't necessarily or even primarily on the atmospheric and glitchy tones throughout the record, but even the effects that make the vocal performance across this record sound airy and encompassing. Throughout MAGDALENE the effort and keen eye for artful tones and grandiose climaxes leaves the listener in a state of awe at how powerful twigs message can be.
Barnett, otherwise known as FKA twigs, has a glistening performance on MAGDALENE, pushing the boundaries of pop on her sophomore release in even deeper ways than her debut record. Upon first listen I found that the textured and vibrant production on the instrumental side was the real highlight of the album, but digging deeper into the record on the second and even third listen reveals a far more colossal and intimate performance. twigs is vulnerable and bear vocally, and her emotion is translated through a strangely intimate yet distant effected vocal style. At times twigs sounds soft and far away, the mixing of her voice seemingly distorting her from reality, and at other moments like cellophane she immediately takes center stage for a personal and introspective presentation. twigs doesn't waste a moment of space throughout MAGDALENE, delivering a tonally consistent and touching project from the choral thousand eyes to the aforementioned final track.
Of course the production of this album from the instrumental side still reserves the right to be praised for its innovation and emotive power. Take a track like mary magdalene, an evidently essential track for the album, which starts out chillingly with soft chimes and static noise then transitions straight into the heavily effected vocals of twigs. The small detail of each sound builds up the message and surrounds the listener in a blanket of sonic bliss.
MAGDALENE serves as a reminder of what pop music is capable of sounding like, how artful and lush it can be, and how essential its message can deliver. FKA twigs leads the pack in a revolution pushing forward the style of music visionaries like Bjork and Kate Bush started. FKA twigs positions herself as the next great artist to develop a rich and luxurious sound while still delivering something wholly consumable. It is the kind of album that is sure to be praised by a casual listener as well as a harsh critic, and one should be not shocked if it demands the attention of every end of the year list.
Favorite track: mary magdalene