“I wanted to die, I’m just being honest”, confesses FKA twigs on her latest record. After a gruelling admission to being abused by Shia Labeouf, Tallulah Barnett has picked up the pieces of her emotions and collated them in her new mixtape, CAPRISONGS. With the help of friends and collaborators, ‘CAPRISONGS’ is a thrilling patchwork of FKA twigs’ identity, one which tries to recover her love for songwriting.
There’s a joyous freedom which permeates many of the songs in ‘CAPRISONGS’, where FKA twigs’ reclamation of sexuality leads to some utterly infectious tracks. Lead single ‘tears in the club’ (ft. The Weeknd) is a steamy track where she rightfully asserts: “I wanna take off my clothes off, wanna touch / My hips, my thighs, my hair, not yours, all mine…” Meanwhile, dancehall-inflected banger ‘papi bones’ (ft. SHYGIRL) intertwines playful horns with sunny piano chords and some of the catchiest melodies on the mixtape. SHYGIRL similarly matches FKA twigs’ energy with her own brand of empowering confidence, making for one of the most fun tracks FKA twigs has released.
That’s not to say that ‘CAPRISONGS’ is purely hedonistic; there’s still moments where FKA twigs wears her heart on her sleeve and gets dark. On ‘meta angel’, twigs forces her words out one by one, as she admits: ‘I’ve got voices in my head/Telling me that I won’t make it far’. But perhaps the most devastating track on the mixtape is the closer, ‘thank you song’, in which FKA twigs thanks a lover for motivating her to live. It’s a cut that wouldn’t go amiss on her 2019 album ‘MAGDALENE’, contorting her vocals against a simple piano to uncomfortable heights. It’s intimate, painful, and beautiful – but it sounds like a path well-tread by now.
Another influence that FKA Twigs wears on her sleeve is Björk’s ‘Vespertine’, whose microbeats, plucky harps and music boxes are scattered over various tracks. Opener ‘ride the dragon’ contrasts East Asian stringed instruments with a growling bass and fast-paced vocals that are cheeky and seductive. ‘darjeeling’ (ft. Jorja Smith and Unknown T) is an ode to London, as a skittering harp becomes the basis for a banging grime beat. As fun as it is, it’s unfortunate that it’s a step down in inventiveness from FKA twigs’ previous discography.
Although this is an exercise in joy, certain tracks feel too short for their own good. ‘pamplemousse’ is criminally short, and its length is felt given that it rests just before another interlude. ‘which way’ features some dwindling melodies and a shuffling beat, but the voice note at the end threatens to overtake the song. Meanwhile, all of the interludes on this mixtape feel more like annoyances than narrative elements, throwing the project all over the place.
‘CAPRISONGS’ is a necessarily selfish project, and one which invites listeners to revel in all its joys and sorrows. Whilst it’s nice to hear a change of pace for twigs (and to, on occasion, genuinely hear her laugh), there’s not as much focus on experimentation and expression, which could disappoint some exacting fans.
Words: Alex Rigotti
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