Like FKA Twigs’ live performances that are equipped with breathtaking stage sets and choreography from another galaxy, listening to “Magdalene” is a sensual, out-of-body experience. FKA Twigs is unafraid to tackle the dualism of being a strong but seductive woman with no boundaries in sound. The songstress continues to ride her own wave of music, this time inspired by the biblical character Mary Magdalene, for whom the album is named. In an interview with BBC 1 Studios, FKA Twigs explained that she was drawn to Magdalene, who is labeled a prostitute in the Bible and defined by her demons, because she was in-fact a natural healer.
Her soft, breathy vocals add a new layer in an album that explores both quiet modesty and foul-mouthed outspokenness. FKA invites listeners to uncover both within themselves with colliding lyrics of female agency and angst. The titular first single from the album, “Cellophane,” exemplifies this duality in the video. The strength in the sound of her six-inch glass stilettos as she comes onto the stage resonates with the confidence of a woman in her favorite pair of heels. Yet, the lyrics of “Cellophane” reflect on the pain of lost love. Twigs counterposes the assured woman she has become in spite of her pain with the damsel in distress persona she wholly rejects.
The album seems to dive deeper into how her personal struggles with love and womanhood have changed her outlook on herself. Unlike “LP1,” her previous album, “Magdalene” resounds as a bold statement from a confident artist. There is one unexpected Future feature on the song “Holy Terrain.” The song is catchy and interesting to listen to with the rasp of Future’s voice and the soothing sound of FKA Twigs on the hook. It is one of the songs that veers the most from the low-key, avant-garde sounds of the album’s other tracks but nonetheless becomes a beautiful addition to the album in its entirety.
Artists like FKA Twigs are challenging what defines the sound of this musical era by simply being themselves. The lyricism and production of this album feels heavy in some places and ephemeral in others. FKA has outdone herself, five years after her single “Good to Love” was released. This album is a must-see in concert for the endless possibilities it has on a stage. She continues to establish herself as a timeless artist that will transcend beyond our time, like the story of Mary Magdalene.
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