Monday, December 1, 2014

Gut Feeling: FKA Twigs - LP1

FKA Twigs – LP1
Young Turks, 2014
It’s not often that an album will drag me kicking and screaming from my safe world of indie rock. I hope that doesn’t sound like some sort of brag or backhanded compliment, because it is regrettable how I am set in my ways. There’s some wiggle room on both sides of my taste (forays into metal and hip hop are not unheard of), but it defaults to ham and egger indie rock so fiercely that I was unsure I would be able to handle FKA Twigs “Alternative R&B” (per Wikipedia) for more than two seconds. But there was something about the album cover, that sad, painted porcelain doll-looking rendition of Tahliah Barnett’s incredibly distinct face. There was something alluring about it; something in the pleasing array of colors and the look she’s giving. I wanted to know what that look was about, so I pulled up the video for “Two Weeks” on youtube and didn’t look away until it was over.

“Two Weeks” is the most sensual song I’ve heard in who knows how long. It’s the first half of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love filtered through layers of throbbing synthesizers with off kilter drum machine beats a la Burial, and the sort of frankly sexual lyrics rarely seen outside of Prince songs. Of course it’s Barnett’s vocals that hypnotize. Everything working together produces a full body listening experience that is incredible. I think part of this is subjective because I’m out of my element and excited, but these often minimal tracks laced with longing and heartbreak are incredibly affecting. Though Barnett is the star and it’s her persona and performance that delivers these songs directly to the heart, the production is outstanding, which is, I suppose, when you take a bunch of intriguing producers (notably Emile Haynie who takes the reigns on this one with fantastic results) and task them with producing dark and moody beats. The most impressive thing about LP1 is that it only gets better from here. I get the impression that Barnett is going to keep mining and keep pushing her sound further and further outside the realm of what we know and just getting to bear witness to this sort of burgeoning talent is an treat.

"Two Weeks"

"Video Girl"

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