It is hard to describe what listening to FKA twigs’ new album Magdalene actually feels like. The sounds on the record are constantly shifting, a strange mix of art pop, R&B and electronic music that is dizzying to think about. Its nine tracks are the culmination of many years work from twigs, giving rise to an arresting and complex listen that’s impossible to define.
Twigs produced the album herself, alongside collaborators such as Skrillex and Nicholas Jaar, and it sounds incredible. From the bizarre orchestral arrangements on ‘Home with You’, to the twisted trap beats on ‘Holy Terrain’ and the minimalist piano on ‘Cellophane’, every single drum beat and distorted piece of feedback feels like it’s been placed there entirely on purpose.
The result is a record that is intensely emotional. In the years building up to Magdalene, twigs went through many personal crises – major surgery, depressive episodes, the end of her engagement to Robert Pattinson. Through this unfamiliar territory twigs kept working on the album, spending a year teaching herself to pole dance for the ‘Cellophane’ video, learning the Chinese martial art wushu for her performances. Magdalene is the end of an important chapter for twigs – a weird, contorted version of a break-up album that only she could have envisioned.
The album does not just reflect internally though, and so much of the album is about finding strength and power as a woman. Twigs chose Mary Magdalene as the album’s namesake because she represents how consistently women are written out of history. She described the album to Future as “a really empowering, sensitive record, with a lot of feminine energy”, and in its completeness lies a powerful statement as to why women should be remembered. Magdalene is a beautiful, defiant, feminist record that we can all take something from.