Rarely does anyone implore me to drop everything I’m doing at a music festival to “experience the journey” of a certain artist from beginning to end. So I was curious when my confidant Paul (keyboardist from indie-band Hundred Waters) begged me to skip St.Vincent’s set at Pitchfork Music Fest in Chicago for FKA Twigs at the Grove stage, nestled among a shady refuge of tall trees.
Paul was right: it was a straight up religious experience. As she took the stage her gaze floated across the crowd through her round Lennon-like frames. With little walking or talking she stared into every single soul, initiating the audience into a trance-like stupor of ecstasy.
In her debut full-length album LP1, eerily angelic opening vocals in “Preface” pave the way for a journey through seduction, love and vulnerability. The natural echoes of her vocals, layered over one another and complemented with spoken words by a grungy, male voice, evoke the tone of a dream-like seance circle, as if to prepare the listener for an out of body experience.
Sinister synth lines melt unexpectedly into warm bass lines for “Lights Off,” an arousing album favorite. There’s no doubt FKA Twigs could procure any man or woman she wanted in her bedroom lair if this was serenaded to them . When it comes to those inner thoughts or moments that involve acquiring (or re-acquiring) a lover, or those battling with personal fantasies and lustful desires, FKA Twigs describes the sentiments perfectly. The premiere single ,“Two Weeks”, is the anthem for such thoughts and moments. “I’d put you first, just close your eyes and dream about it / Higher than a motherfucker dreaming of you as my lover” will resonate with anyone who’s experienced those late night, often regrettable, love-life afterthoughts.
In sex-infused “Hours,” the London-based singer/producer describes her soft-core porn fantasies to any potential lovers hearing her plea. But seriously: who wouldn’t want to make out for hours? The album’s emotional voyage takes a darker, more vulnerable turn leading into ”Pendulum,””Video Girl” and “Numbers.” With its haunting instrumentation and her straightforward, accusatory tone, “Numbers” hit me personally like a freight train. She asks, “Was I just a number to you? / Was I just a lonely girl to fly? / Tonight, I’ve got a question for you / Tonight, do you want to live or die?” (Note: Baesic ladies, this hymn of vindictive self-worth is not for you…)
Reoccurring themes of infidelity, personal self-worth, and overcoming the notion of feeling like an “afterthought” are at the forefront of FKA Twigs’ melancholy lullabies. Confidence rebuilds as she closes the album with the poetically sultry “Closer,”“Give Up” and “Kicks.” The album’s confessions of loss, intimate desire, love, and lust are accompanied by chilled-out productions that seem heavily influenced by Smashing Pumpkins (Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness era), Ryan Hemsworth and Flying Lotus. Front to back, the LP flows the way the emotional spectrum of love does, so perhaps it’s only natural for one to develop a personal connection to such genuine sentiments. Although, the hypnotic siren voice and dripping-with-sex beats certainly help.