FKA twigs has had a knack for introducing slightly more abstract and artistic R&B/hip-hop a wider audience right from her first release, EP1. Through her follow-ups EP2 and LP1 she managed to establish her music by pairing the releases with visual counterparts that really brought her whole sound together.
With M3LL155X (‘Mellissa’), she takes a significant leap forward, and it’s most definitely musically – yes, the experimental sound is still there, and yes, following the line of her previous releases, there’s a curious, strange, and erotic short-film to go with the release as well, but what Tahliah Barnett brings on top of this is much improved songwriting.
Opener ‘Figure 8’ features walls of distortion, expected by those familiar with the artist, sandwiched by breathy-voiced singing overplayed atop a lurching bass which makes the track approachable for newer fans – twigs’ almost seems vulnerable and exasperated, singing “Paper cut it, I feel//The slightest rip is a river overflowing me”.
However, it’s revealed on ‘I’m Your Doll’ that this is merely a pose for her – the track’s highly sexual lyrics show her growing frustration, and this is matched to great effect by an instrumental that slowly swells, sputtering percussion joined by eerie synth notes and distortion towards the close. ‘In Time’ shows twigs releasing in an almost irate fashion, hissing “You’ve got a goddamn nerve” at her lover. It’s a complete switch-up from submissive to dominant, twigs exploring what it means (to her) to be a woman. The trap-esque beat behind this, big bass and percussion to boot, probably make this the most approachable track on the EP.
‘Glass & Patron’ comes next with a more abstract vibe – twigs seems to doubt herself, synths droning in the background whilst she paints an almost desperate image of herself trying to impress, and then snaps back into confidence with singing “I can’t wait to make your body my own”, asking her partner to pose for her. The instrumental almost breaks apart, sped up vocals and an eclectic beat spinning things out of control before twigs enters back into the frame. ‘Mothercreep’ closes out the EP, scuttling and whirring, twigs unsettlingly singing “I creep for you//I’ll be there soon”.
You might finish this record asking yourself what the fuck you just listened to if you’re not one to listen to experimental music, and it might take multiple listen-throughs to get fully immersed into FKA twigs’ dystopian like scenery, both lyrically and musically. And yes, the cuts might not be too conventional, and may be jarring for new listeners, but you’d be hard pressed to say she’s not talented. Many wait with baited breath for her next release.
This article was written by Mo Hafeez