If you've ever read an album review, you know that they often contain more adjectives than a dictionary. But you'll also know that if you've heard FKA Twigs' latest album, LP1, you can't discuss it without bringing up adjectives like these to mind. Incandescent. Elemental. Menacing. Shimmering. Hypnotic. Deconstructed. Fragile. Tactile. Wet. Penetrative. Spellbinding. The feeling you get in whatever reproductive organ you own when you think about the best sex you ever had.
Rooster Rating: 9.5/10
If you've ever read an album review, you know that they often contain more adjectives than a dictionary. But you'll also know that if you've heard FKA Twigs' latest album, LP1, you can't discuss it without bringing up adjectives like these to mind.
Incandescent. Elemental. Menacing. Shimmering. Hypnotic. Deconstructed. Fragile. Tactile. Wet. Penetrative. Spellbinding. The feeling you get in whatever reproductive organ you own when you think about the best sex you ever had.
Yeah, baby. LP1 is sexy.
But, there's an odd trend: FKA Twigs is receiving an inordinate amount of praise for her defiantly-sexual lyrics, as opposed to for her unprecedented sound. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she is a Grade-A MegaBabe.
In fact, Gawker proclaimed that LP1 wasn't like listening to sex … it "was sex."
"It's hot when the 26-year-old London-based leftfield soul singer comes upon a word that she then loops like a sonic gif. "You like that? You like that?" she's implying. Yeah, I like it … it's also about as close to a sexual experience as any music I've ever experienced. This album is visceral, and ecstatic—"Pendulum" climaxes with rapid exhalations, delivered frantically like Lamaze breathing that isn't doing its job.," album reviewer Rich Juzwiak shared. Whoa man, do you need some tissues or something?
But with lyrics like these …
Who would've thought, I'd be here, in your mouth, loud and clear?
Harder… Till you fill it with me
Harder… Am I suited to fit all of your needs?
Master of all of your needs
… we can kind of see what he's getting off on.
But while we agree with him (LP1 is baby-making music for sure), it's not the force of her sonic sexuality that we find revolutionary. What's revolutionary about it LP1 is its inscrutable instrumentation, its otic way of blurring the line between vulnerability and confidence, its ability to mimic, with sound, the syrupy lust that percolates in the electric moment before an important kiss.
While other artists accent their sexual lyrics with to-the-point melodies and "I'm gonna hump you" bass lines, FKA Twigs accents her coital words with sound that's undefinable and lush as love itself.
That's not to say that it would have the same fertility-increasing effects without her voice and what she’s singing about. Her shaky, angelic vocals reveal a large portion of the desire and fragility that makes LP1 so intoxicating. But FKA Twigs' music is most alluring in terms of its genre-defiance and production; it's equal parts R&B, electropop, experimental, cinematic, and shit, whatever other genre you can think of . It's not the first time someone has defied genre conventions … but damn, she does it well.
And the production. Ooh, the production. In fact, let's talk about that a little, lest we need a change of long johns. The album features production by Dev Haynes of Blood Orange, Arca (Kanye’s Yeezus co-conspirator), Emile Haynie (who produced Lana Del Rey's Born to Die), Lil B compatriot Clams Casino, and others. The components of sound are unconventional and drug-like, giving it an ethereal, floating-in-space quality. It's steeped in digital detail down to an atomic level; every measure is layered with bizarre, unnameable electrical sounds that melt together. It lacks structure, decelerates tempo, perfects timing, and refuses to let you predict what'll happen next.
Sonically, it deconstructs common tropes to rewire what your idea of groove and ambiance is. It covers today’s trip-hop cadence in a gloomy, cavernous swath. And, ironically, some of the most powerful moments come not from the dubbed, layered, full notes, which are great, but the hesitant moments of silence between them. LP1 both teases and rewards you with a constant give and take of almost over-produced moments and achingly bare ones.
But there’s something lurking underneath the facade of her overt sexuality, which is immense, unrequited longing. In “Number,” she asks “Was I just a number to you? Why you gotta go and hurt me babe?\Why you gotta go and make me cry? I just wanted to see you.” It’s humanizing, and empathy-arousing, which is a heartbreaking contrast to her more confident lyrics like in “Two Weeks” in which she croons about erasing some lucky man’s mind of his previous lovers:“ I know it hurts. You know, I'd quench that thirst (I can treat you better than them) … Pull out the incisor, give me two weeks, you won't recognize her.”
It’s those things that exist beyond the realm of simply “being sexy” that make LP1 a frankly fantastic listen. In fact, the only place where it misses points is the fact that the songs all sound more or less the same. That’s a great thing because they’re so good, but … a molecule more variety would have made it perfect.
Best time to listen to it: After you’ve said something convincingly witty enough to lure someone sexy back to your house.
Worst time to listen to it: When your second, third, and fourth booty call back-up options are all either on their honeymoons or texting you back things like "No habla ingles, porfavor fuck off" … or when you don’t have the time or endurance to fuck for like three days straight.