The Hype machine is well and truly in motion with FKA twigs. She’s got the Mercury nomination and she’s already proven to be a step forward from the usual ‘next big thing labelled artist. For starters, she’s done her dues, working as a dancer for the likes of Kyliuwith some good and bad experiences lending themselves to shaping the independent character she is. She’s learnt Ableton to produce the bulk of her own work, she’s self-released her first EP via Bandcamp, and had creative control over both her music and videos from the start. Perhaps she’s just a bit older (26) than some of her contemporaries and that’s given her a more realistic worldview, but it’s refreshing to see someone so determined to ensure that what gets out there to represent her as an artist, but in a fiercely independent way, rather than anything as contrived as Gaga.
But what about the music? I’ll add a disclaimer here: I come to this album with curiosity, but also the understanding that this music isn’t likely to light my fire. I’m no pigeonholer, and this is far from the slick R’n’B that lazy jounalists will paint it as. It’s much more than that, with loose structures, odd sounds, clicks and off-beat persusion. Volcas are double-tracked falsetto and deep whispers, drenched in reverb. And then there’s the lyrics. Overtly sexual, and not in a trite way that’s the standard for rap and hip-hop or some more mainstream R’n’B, but really unashamedly gritty and open. That’s caused a lot of buzz, and that’ before you get to the videos. You only have to have a look at her videos, especially Two Weeks, to see that she’s something different.
But is it for me? I don’t know. I’ve listened to the album four times already, and I just don’t connect with it at the moment. It’s an odd mix of sexual lyrics, but woven into a structure that seems cold and detatched. It’s very modern, and from the way the music sounds and is produced, I take my hat off to her for almost pushing against the standard template, even to a point where it will lose her fans or sales, but then that’s what great artists do. She’s some way off that but you have to applaud it.
I’d compare it to Grimes in many ways, an album that many loved but really grated when I first encountered it. I think a lot of the problems I’d had with that album were more around interviews I’d read with Grimes and fond her to be pretentious and irritating. For FKA Twigs, I actually like everything I’ve read from her and about her, but I’m struggling to penetrate it at the moment. Maybe, like Grimes, I’ll listen to it after a break and it’ll gel.
Get stuck in and let me know your thoughts.