Nov 22, 2019 (updated Jan 3, 2020)
Heartbreaking and riveting, 'MAGDALENE' is the product of a revolutionary at her best. Following a high-profile break-up and a surgery that removed painful fibroid tumors from her uterus in 2017, we find FKA twigs rebuilding herself from utter physical and emotional dismantling on 'MAGDALENE'. Album opener "Thousand Eyes" is a five-minute hymn of an introduction to the album, with FKA twigs singing about how it feels to be completely exposed when the world is watching you: "If I walk out the door, it starts our last goodbye / If you don't pull me back, it wakes a thousand eyes". The song starts out a capella, but as it progresses, it slowly blossoms into a trippy, extraterrestrial ballad with FKA twigs' lyrical repetition never feeling redundant. Follow-up "Home with You" has almost spoken word verses ripe with vocal processing that transition into moments of clarity eclipsed by the hook. Before the end of the final chorus, FKA twigs' voice and the supporting instrumentation seems to ascend like an angel's would, with the singer demonstrating her choral prowess in ways we've never heard before. "Sad Day" is the closest we get to a mainstream pop melody on 'MAGDALENE', featuring signature breathy vocals from the singer and an addictive hook. The track, while heartbreaking, is diaphanous and gleaming, with a brief interruption of distortion in the bridge: "You're running / And I tried to make you sad before / You're running / I made you sad before". Second single and Future-assisted "Holy Terrain" is a new direction for FKA twigs, featuring her breathy vocals over a trap beat. The song shows the singer wishing for a dedicated lover: "For a man who can follow his heart / Not get bound by his boys and his chains / For a man who can follow his heart / And stand up in my holy terrain", and the result is a sad, witchy banger. "Mary Magdalene" is a breathtaking woman-empowering centerpiece for 'MAGDALENE', with FKA twigs comparing herself to the biblical follower and companion of Christ, whose story has long been twisted and convoluted, with the Magdalene being mislabeled as a wife, a prostitute. "Fallen Alien" is a pulsing, electronic, art pop banger that fittingly makes Twigs seem like a citizen of a different planet. Throughout the song, we hear her shriek and let loose vocally in borderline-unhinged ways that we've never heard on previous works. "Mirrored Heart" isn't one of the most experimental tunes we've ever heard from Twigs, but it's one of the most heart-rending. Visions of love make Twigs remember the lover she lost: "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", she sings with raw emotion and affliction on the song's hook. "Daybed" is a tale of depression with some of Twigs' most phonetically-structured but overmodest lyrics: "Pressing are my feelings / Active are my fingers / Faux my cunnilingus / Dirty are my dishes / Many are my wishes". "Possessive is my daybed" she intermittently sings throughout the song, relaying the congenerous feeling of just not wanting to get out of bed on a day where the daily heartbreak and pain is all too consuming. Album closer and lead single "Cellophane" is another heartbreaking, raw ballad, featuring warped pianos and one of Twigs' most silken vocal performances to date. "They're waiting / They're watching / They're watching us / They're hating / They're waiting / And hoping / I'm not enough," she closes the album with. 'MAGDALENE' is a raw, vulnerable journey of heartbreak for one of the most talented women in music. Featuring new production and vocal performances for Twigs, her vulnerability is masterfully showcased through her mind-boggling talents as a writer, producer, singer, dancer, and performer. All tracks on 'MAGDALENE' are standouts.
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FKA twigs - LP1
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