FKA Twigs - 'Magdalene' Album Review
Last Friday was a fine day for sure. The force that is FKA Twigs released her intrepid sophomore album Magdalene five years after the release of LP1. Following heartbreak, surgery and delving deeper into other art forms, the British singer-songwriter has re-emerged with an LP packed full of despair, pain and resolution.
As the album title suggests, this album is tightly intertwined with iconography and symbolism. Twigs embodiment of biblical imagery beautifully conveys femininity as a strength on which others can rely. The beginning of the album draws strongly on the depiction of Mary Magdalene, a prostitute and disciple of Jesus, as an image of stability that she failed to achieve. In ‘Home With You’ Twigs sorrowfully sings of how “Mary Magdalene would never have let her loved ones down” and “I lie naked and pure with intentions to cleanse you” in ‘Sad Day’. However, the religious connotations not only convey regret for past relationships, but also relate to the surgery she underwent in 2017 to remove fibroid tumours from her uterus. “Apples, cherries, pain” in ‘Home With You’ and “when my fruits are for taking” in ‘Holy Terrain’ relate to how she described her tumours as ’a fruit bowl of pain every day’ on Instagram.
FKA Twigs ability to convey complex emotions and storytelling is not limited to this album. Interestingly, the lyrics of her 2016 song ‘Good to Love’ constantly refers to praying for the man she loves. In ‘Holy Terrain’ Future raps “if you pray for me, I know you play for keeps” showing how her desire has come to fruition. Whilst the multimedia artist’s new album is smattered in symbolism and religious iconography, it avoids feeling pretentious. Her compelling lyricism in her smooth, soprano voice over the industrial, low-fi beat is a tantalising concoction.
As the album progresses, it feels as though you are listening to Twigs transgress to some of her darkest places. The beginning of the LP is strongly rooted in idolising Magdalene as a saviour, a woman that others can depend on, what she aspires to be. Towards the end, tracks like ‘Mirrored Heart’ and ‘Cellophane’ show the grip of depression, loneliness and heartbreak, with her lyrics becoming less abstract.
The latter is sombre piece, singing of the claustrophobia of having a relationship in the public and the heartache of a love lost. Accompanied by a piano and slow beat, this track comes alive in the music video which was released earlier this year. Considering Twigs started her career as a backing dancer for the likes of Kylie Minogue and Jessie J at the mere age of seventeen, no wonder her sound fits so beautifully with her movement. However, the stand-out track on this album is ‘Daybed’. Co-produced by the Brooklyn based Oneohtrix Point Never, the ballad is frank and raw in how it addresses depression which is mirrored in the unusual instrumental accompaniment.
Magdalene, much like FKA Twigs, is a difficult album to describe. It verges on concept album but remains firmly a piece of artistry direct from the soul. As a genre-bending artist, Twigs has yet again defied expectations and has created a pulsating album that has a life of its own. Give it a listen, you will not regret it.