Release Date: Aug 12, 2014
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative R&B
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Right now I'm thinking Tahliah Barnett might be a ghost, or an extra-terrestrial, or possibly a mythical goddess sculpted from the pages of Holy Scripture. It has something to do with her slender physique, spooky trip-hop backbeats and the sensual futuristic R&B, but it's more about how listeners might find themselves diving into the luminous fog of Barnett's music - only to pass right through to the other side, as if they've just had an outer-body experience.
Since FKA twigs slipped into culture behind a mutated face, disembodied and spinning nervously in the surreal video for “Water Me,” nearly all of the visuals accompanying her music have focused on the body. “Papi Pacify” stitches together loops of the 26-year-old songwriter submitting to a male partner in cinematic black-and-white. In “How’s That,” a virtual body shivers and deflates, the human form reduced to its surface area and then glitched past recognition.
FKA Twigs has become a phenomenon of sorts. In this bubble where we are constantly searching for the next artist we can call our own, we can’t help but hold out hope for an album that fully engrosses us. That forces us to relive the first moment we engaged with a work that went beyond it’s chords, hooks and voices into the great emotional or artistic beyond.
Much like her penchant for cracking her limbs, FKA twigs' brand of experimental R&B on her debut, LP1, is wholly devoted to staccato snaps and tonal fractures, tempered only by the soft balm of her voice. "Closer" showcases twigs' love for airy chord breaks and jello-y synth lines, while the sultry "Lights On" climaxes in a collision of car alarms and calliopes stolen from a travelling circus. However, what pushes this album beyond a glorified release of field recordings and agitated tempos is her lack of hesitation to explore the darker sides of lust and infatuation.
FKA twigs knows a thing or two about creating an image for herself. Every song she's released so far, even the four from her self-released debut EP from 2012, has been accompanied by its own video. What these may lack in storyboarding, set design, or anything else, really—"Hide" just features her hypnotically stroking an anthurium that adorns her nude midsection—more than make up for in their ability to draw you close, hold you rapt and keep you wondering just who, exactly, this character called twigs might be.
If it weren't for the very self-explanatory name LP1, you'd be forgiven for not believing it was British singer/producer FKA twigs' debut album. Rarely does a young artist make such an assured and confident statement with their first full-length album, and LP1 establishes twigs as one of those artists who is immediately and uniquely themselves right out of the gate. .
Ahead of this year's Mercury prize, DiS in partnership with Naim Audio's new wireless music system, mu-so, will help you GoDeeper into 2014's nominated albums. Today, we would like to turn your attention to the fantastic debut album by dancer turned alien-pop phenomenon fka Twigs. This review originally appeared back in August ahead of the album's release.
It’s often strange when a much-anticipated album by a strongly heralded new artist finally arrives. Often the lead up is long, protracted and exhausting, the artist has been pushed, prodded and promoted by labels, pluggers, media and the attendant hype machine until the actual album is met with a shrug of indifference, the hyper speed 21st century musical world has moved on to the next big thing. This is not a fate that should befall Thaliah Barnett aka FKA twigs.
Blurring the edge between sound and image, Tahilah Debrett Barnett has been quietly releasing a handful of noteworthy singles that bring us closer to understanding the true nature of her moniker FKA Twigs. Image is unquestionably rooted into her approach, and for a number of years it was a profitable undertaking. The British singer-songwriter had been featured as a backup dancer in several music videos, using body and movement to enlarge the appeal of those she was working for.
How weird is FKA twigs? No, this isn’t an “I know, right” rhetorical situation. I’m really asking. How weird is LP1, the long-awaited debut LP from twenty-six year-old, English phenom Tahliah Barnett? The answer, like all things weird, depends on your frame of reference. For an artist poised to transition from self-releasing her first EP to selling millions of records and embracing global fame? Yeah: she’s weird.
There's been a lot of hype surrounding LP1, the debut album from Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA twigs. She's only released two EPs until now, but her rise to something approaching pop-stardom has been fierce and unstoppable. A seriously considered image has helped—Barnett has been on the covers of I-D, Dazed and The Fader already, and her music videos have more or less gone viral.
Sex is not, in the strictest sense, sexy. It's that too, but it's primarily other things. Sex is the moment mere “sexy” expands into something else entirely. For the lucky ones, it's an incredibly and simply rewarding experience. For others, it's a far more complex confluence of conflicting ….
FKA Twigs' early EPs were such jewel-like statements of purpose, delivering songs full of sensuality and heartache so economically, that an album almost seemed superfluous. None of these songs appear on the simply titled LP 1, a bold move that extends to the rest of the album. Tahliah Barnett opens up her sound by working with a host of producers: along with previous collaborator Arca, indie darlings Paul Epworth and Dev Hynes contribute their sound-shaping skills, along with Emile Haynie, whose contributions to Eminem's Recovery earned him a Grammy.
By now, those with their ears pricked up will probably know a little about the artist Formerly Known as Twigs, one of 2014's most eagerly anticipated debutantes. The gossip goes like this: a dancer-turned-singer, Tahliah Barnett, was once, as per her latest track-leak, a Video Girl for artists such as Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue. Most infamously, she had a role in Jessie J's les-sploitation video for Do It Like a Dude.
It increasingly feels as if trying to nurture an atmosphere of mystery in pop isn't worth the bother. For years, it was taken as read that pop music was a kind of theatre of dreams in which people could reinvent themselves. Audiences didn't ask too many searching questions; a certain mystique was self-evidently part of the fun. In the age of social media, it doesn't work: however long you spend cultivating an intriguing persona, someone is guaranteed to swiftly pop up gleefully brandishing the mundane truth about you.
Signed to forward-thinking London imprint Young Turks and the subject of excited industry whispers after videos began surfacing online two years ago, FKA Twigs’ slippery R&B has been hailed as the sound of the future. At the very least, Tahliah Barnett’s craft is ripe for the digital age, when artists are increasingly discovered through screens and devices, and sound is aligned with image more closely than ever before.Twigs understands this. Her early releases ‘EP1’ and ‘EP2’ came with striking videos: Twigs’ doll-like face rocking back and forth in the video for ‘Water Me’; her mouth stuffed with the fingers of a man three times her size in ‘Papi Pacify’.
The first year of FKA twigs’ gradual rise to one of the most in-demand, near-iconic new artists in the country was devoted to videos. One had Tahliah Barnett covering where the sun doesn’t shine with a leaf, the other, her eyes enlarged to a supernatural size. ‘Papi Pacify’ saw her in a permanent choking position, disturbing and enticing in strange conundrum.
To live is to want. The process of doing so doesn’t get any easier with the knowledge of this facet of human nature. It’s one of those things that can never be succinctly and completely explained. Not through religion, science, common sense. Nothing. What’s more, coming to grips with desire ….
This 26-year-old British singer-producer broke through in 2013 with a pair of EPs that were so sleepy and diaphanous they seemed like apparitions. That was part of the appeal for many fans, but her debut LP is far more substantial. Twigs' deconstructed shards of U.K. grime and garage land heavier, while elegiac vocals soften the songs without blunting their edge.
Pop music’s omnivorous nature is increasingly transforming the genre into a productive assemblage in its own right, eclipsing and consuming the artists who might have once been described as self-sufficient entities “expanding its borders. ” By way of example, PC Music’s (excellent) recent output had the paradoxical effect of making “Lemonade,” the most recent single by SOPHIE after the producer’s sudden ascent in the dance/pop ecology, seem strangely regressive — despite the fact that it wouldn’t be unfair to describe the PC Music catalogue as playing around in the newly opened sandbox of “pop” left in the rift that SOPHIE’s “Bipp” ever so briefly tore in pop’s fabric (albeit with a big push from the decaying vaporware movement). Along similar lines, British vocalist and producer FKA twigs enacted a similarly fleeting rupture in the fabric of pop music with the release of her EP2, a collaboration with Venezuelan/Brooklyn producer Arca, repeating a strangely familiar move in pop music by bringing it into the realm it so adores, where the alien and the deeply familiar embrace, which in this case was a future trip-hop stepping into a liminal space of ghosts and indeterminacy, sexual energy, and acute melancholy.
As FKA twigs, British musician Tahliah Barnett turns R&B into a cerebral soundscape of ever-shifting rhythms and noise. Her debut LP is similar to recent albums by Björk and the Knife in that she messes around with time signatures, phrasing and sonic oddities in search of a unique song structure. Whereas those artists' playful metaphors or political lyrics mirrored their non-traditionalism, twigs is more direct.
opinion byPETER TABAKIS < @ptabakis > Instant pleasure is the jurisdiction of pop, and pop radio is a place where R&B reigns. Tahliah Barnett makes R&B of a sort, but she works a snare subtler than most. If you haven’t followed her dazzling rise as FKA twigs, all the commotion she’s caused may seem bewildering. Her songs offer few tuneful entryways.
Tahliah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs, certainly has the pedigree of someone who makes woozy R&B. She’s called Gloucestershire and London home, has familial roots in Jamaica and Spain, and has been an artistic force in dance and vocals from an early age. Now 26 years old, she’s released her first full-length, and it’s a strikingly confident debut that injects a sense of intimacy and experimentation into the modern R&B formula most often associated with acts like The Weeknd and How To Dress Well.
The notion of using a certain palette of sounds to convey immense negativity and loss is not a new one. In fact, it’s a pretty well-worn route these days, with anyone with a soulful bent tripping over their own feet to use the ‘clicks + whispers = gold’ method. It works, it does. It is wearing thin however, and it takes something, someone special to make us take note nowadays.
Legion and lamentable are the reviews of female artists written by male music critics in which their hands appear to have drifted away from the keyboard for an energetic thigh rub, as their words collapse into panting cliché: "doe-eyed" singer songwriters, gothic electronic "vixens", delicate flowers whose achingly beautiful art the writer just cannot wait to protect in his sweatily cupped hands. FKA twigs is, therefore, potentially problematic, a honey trap for the ma. .
There’s a moment in Fader’s cover feature on FKA twigs where, scrutinising an image of the singer from a forthcoming photoshoot, her stylist Karen Clarkson remarks, “I don’t think anyone’s looked like that before, have they?”. twigs’ pop project to date has been all about new configurations. Not only of image – though her look, both in magazines and onstage, is frequently surprising.
One of the more interesting developments in R&B over the past several years is how far afield the genre has strayed from form. Where other strains of popular music have grown muscular — from Adele’s panoramic croon to Carrie Underwood’s arena-ready bombast, not to mention the influence of TV singing competitions “American Idol” and “The Voice” — modern rhythm and blues has turned inward. The beats are usually electronic, almost always minimal, and the voices clear and unhurried.
There’s nothing missing here—it just sounds like there is. Tahliah Barnett, the woman behind FKA Twigs, has made an album almost entirely about the absence of something. There’s an immense amount of want here, most of it sexual, but it’s an unfulfilled want. LP1 takes the humid isolation of Twigs’ EP1 and EP2 and twists it into ten tracks of relationship Hail Marys.
FKA Twigs LP1 (Young Turks) Tahliah Barnett once flexed her musical talents as a background dancer from rural Gloucestershire, ending up on the fringes of Kylie Minogue videos. Her debut long-player LP1 is proof that talent can only thrive in the shadows for so long. Turn up "Two Weeks," a chittering blend of flashbulb beats, shuttering synths, and some deep, inescapable horniness: "My thighs are apart for when you're ready to breath in, suck me up/ I'm healing with all the shit you're dealing, motherfucker/ Get your mouth open, you know you're mine." Sex and sweat drips from almost every song, mostly the malcontent, clenched-fists, just-can't-get-enough kind.