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CD of the Month

CD of the Month, September 2015

Dan Burney

Sept. 1, 2015
James Calvet

Radio 1190 - KVCU

England-born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, also known has FKA Twigs, is the most unlikely pop star in recent years. Though her roots are in alternative R&B and electronic, her heavy flourishes in art pop and experimental makes her the most interesting character in her genre. After her incredibly successful debut record LP1, Twigs dazzled and enchanted not only indie but electronic and R&B audiences to no end. Her style is dark and mysterious, but yet with her sensual and piercing vocals that hover closely above the instrumentals, each track performed is altogether exhilarating and hypnotizing. After working with Beyoncé on her newest record, producer Boots had announced that he would be working with FKA Twigs on her newest EP. Without the contributing production from Arca, Clams Casino and Blood Orange like Twigs had on LP1 speculation of the experimentalism on the new EP arose. Luckily after a surprise release of the EP in mid-August, it's apparent that Twigs can shine bright regardless of the producer. 

On M3LL155X (pronounced: Mellissa), we see Twigs growing as a songwriter without compromising her experimentalism. Along with the surprise release of this EP, an accompanying short film was released with it. In the video, Twigs explores sexuality by physically recreating the sensual feelings she conveys through music. Each track's music video is unsettling, erotic and dream-like with images of Twigs portrayed as a blow-up doll and even as pregnant before she shortly gives birth to a long, colorful cloth. It's an experience. But after only one viewing we see that FKA Twigs has created an image and style that is unlike any other artist out there. Each track on M3LL155X is urgent, strange and futuristic with just enough pop hooks to pull the listener in while the experimentation and eclecticism keep the record fresh and exciting. The stand out track "Glass and Patron" starts off as a brooding pop song, with lyrics and wordplay that are simultaneously familiar and otherworldly. But once the song kicks into gear, the tempo shift, siren sounds and vocal manipulation keep the chorus catchy as hell but incredibly unusual and titillating. 

On that same note, the track "I'm Your Doll" is a dive into the deep end of the sexual part of Twigs' mind. Blatantly singing of fetishism is not only incredibly courageous but makes the song more engaging to listen to. What FKA Twigs does well is taking the romantic and sexual themes without diluting the intense rush and feeling that come with those subjects. Illustrated in her music and visuals, sex and romance are depicted in a stimulating fashion but incredibly unconventional. Unlike other pop stars, FKA Twigs points out that sex and romance is a strange and weird experience but is deeply spiritual and artful. Right now, FKA Twigs might be at the height of her popularity. With the recognition and praise she gained from her debut, it's quite impressive that she can stay as experimental and eclectic as she has on M3LL155X. Undoubtedly, she has not only shown that she can stride regardless of producer, but can take full creative control of each song with fantastic results. FKA Twigs is the pop icon that we've been waiting for, she's unique, powerful, exciting and, most importantly, not afraid to show off who she really is.