Album Review: FKA Twigs finds self-confidence in “Caprisongs”

At the end of “oh my love” in her new mixtape Caprisongs, FKA twigs clings to the message “We’ve not got a long time here, so love yourself, know your worth.” This is a significant leap from where she was when her 2019 album Magdalene was released. The album was in part influenced by her public breakup in 2017 that resulted in racist and sexist online abuse. In 2018, she underwent surgery to remove fibroid tumors from her uterus. And just over a year ago, twigs filed a lawsuit against another ex-partner, alleging emotional abuse and assault. In Magdalene, she confronted these personal traumas, drawing inspiration from Mary Magdalene, a figure whose own story was stripped away from her and condemned by others, but notably, persisted in the face of adversity. The result was a raw, avant-garde exploration of her conflicted self in the shadow of unwarranted publicity. 

This makes twigs’ reinvention in Caprisongs so triumphant. Although she still deals with heartbreak and loneliness, twigs is able to make music that centers on herself, rather than past trauma caused by others. In “which way,” she proclaims, “I’m not the accessory to the rockstar, I’m the rockstar.” The result is very much about twigs’ new positive frame of mind and desire to share her new self to a wider audience. FKA twigs also intersperses conversations with her friends in between tracks, adding a sense of vulnerability and closeness throughout the mixtape. “I want to be confident, I really do,” she says at the beginning of “meta angel.” She offers up this same advice and positive affirmations from her friends to her listeners, giving off a level of intimacy that honors the love and support she received during her lowest moments.  

Caprisongs was created entirely during the pandemic and like with a lot of COVID-era art, seeks to understand the world through self-reflection. Part of this includes the mixtape’s title of embodying a Capricorn sun, one who is driven and solves their problems through hard work. The track “oh my love” also explores her “pisce’ veen” where in the midst of falling in love again in a dysfunctioning relationship, she instead attempts to fully embrace her music and herself. In “lightbeamers,” she makes a list of truths about herself to read when she feels down. These tracks culminate into personal growth in spite of her past challenges.

To create her particular sound, twigs incorporates production from El Guincho, Arca, and Koreless, as well as new collaborators like Cirkut and Mike Dean. As a whole, the mixtape ends up being a multifaceted listen with little room for repetition. However, this occasionally introduces a lack of cohesion and consistency. The track “careless” features some engaging synth-line harmonies but gets bogged down in its slow and hollow instrumentation. And while the laid-back single “jealousy” interestingly integrates Afrobeats, its instrumentation comes off as simple compared to the rest of the project. 

Although Caprisongs shares much of the same strength and vulnerability as Magdalene, its composition stands in stark contrast. By trading an experimental art pop sound in favor of a more mainstream mixture of R&B, hip hop, trap, dancehall, and even hyperpop and drill, twigs presents a free and unrestrained project that brings her audience along her journey towards self-acceptance. Caprisongs’ lead single, “tears in the club,” combines an alternative r&b sound with direct lyrics while “papi bones” features upbeat, radio-friendly dancehall production. However, twigs doesn’t give up her creative idiosyncrasies entirely. The track “darjeeling” boasts a surprising UK drill-influenced beat and “pamplemousse” stretches twigs sonically into a hyperpop direction. 

In a discography filled with experimental pop played at an overwhelming intensity, Caprisongs offers both a feeling of playfulness and self-assurance. This results in a more easygoing listen, but twigs imbues her music with the same intimacy as her previous releases. The only difference is that she prevailed over many of her past challenges and, as a result, has undergone a transformation into a more confident individual. She has more control over her life and with the support of her friends and loved ones, is better able to love herself and her music. 


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