FKA twigs has been broken. While much of the singer’s music showcases her vulnerability, little of it details as devastating scenarios as the lyrics on MAGDALENE, her sophomore record, and her first release in over four years. With such a lengthy gap between projects — her last being 2015’s M3LL155X EP in a four-year streak of releases both big and small — the anticipation can easily dwarf the quality of the content, causing a respectably fine project to be ripped to shreds for “forcing” listeners to wait for something they don’t want. twigs not only clears this particular hurdle, she practically outpaces all of her competition, delivering a crippling collection that speaks to the Shakespearean theatre that is heartbreak.
Many tracks in twigs’ discography feel distant from her personal life, a purposeful space that has allowed her to write from a much more abstract point of view on subjects such as femininity, sexuality, and relationships. On MAGDALENE, however, the singer sheds her previous fear of musical intimacy, diving into a record she described as being “about every lover that [she’s] ever had, and every lover that [she’s] going to have;” from the invitation of new love (“holy terrain”), to the realization of just how unfixable a relationship is (“thousand eyes”), and the shattering/rebuilding that takes place after said relationship’s dissolution (“cellophane”).
Not only has twigs opened up lyrically, the sound of the album is considerably more inviting than the icy and sometimes abrasive production of the singer’s output up until this point. Utilizing more organic — or organic-sounding, perhaps — instrumentation than ever before, there’s a warm to these nine tracks that only elevates the intimacy of the record’s melodies. That’s not to say these songs are lacking in the singer’s signature experimentalism; “thousand eyes” is a five-minute Gregorian chant, “home with you” combines hip hop with opera, “fallen alien” sounds just as extraterrestrial as its title implies, and “daybed” mimics the malaise of depression to a striking degree. But it’s first single and final track “cellophane” — a song stripped of little other than piano and a vocal — where twigs proves just how far-reaching MAGDALENE is.
Standout tracks: “home with you,” “fallen alien,” “daybed,” “cellophane”