Sunday, December 28, 2014

FKA twigs 'LP1'

I didn't include this in my Best Albums of 2014 list because, despite its critical acclaim, I was pretty sure that I didn't like it. English musician FKA twigs' debut album LP1 is an eccentric and cerebral entry into this new era of "alternative" R&B (but twigs herself likes to describe as 'punk,' rather than alternative R&B). On my first listen of this record, I was baffled, confused, and left wondering why it was so acclaimed. It was praised for its subtlety, its sensuality and at times, its oddness--I didn't get any of that--Just a bunch of synths and weird non-melodic noises strung together with a feather-light vocal, interesting, it was not.

Admittedly, I had it on in the background, fading in and out of the tracks, so all of my attention, it didn't have. After a few weeks, I couldn't escape the acclaim; seeing it appear near the pinnacle of nearly all of the major music publications' Best of '14 lists. The use of words, "subtlety," "sensual," and the somewhat misguided use of the term, "alternative R&B," kept cropping up and also, comparison's to supposedly similar artists such as The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and a recent favourite, Banks. I thought, I like them all enough, why don't I like this critically acclaimed darling.

I wasn't going to force myself to like music I didn't enjoy, but LP1 had elicited some sort of cloud over my head. So, a few days ago, I put on my headphones and dedicated 40 minutes to listening to properly--and it clicked. I'd argue, the quickest an album as ever grown on me. While, I still don't enjoy it in its entirety (If I had given it a proper review, I'd probably have awarded it a 6 or 7 out of 10) I discover some of my favourite songs of the year on it.

Where the albums works is in its intricacy. It's amazing how an album that's simplistic, hollow and quiet is also complex and intricate in its composition. My current favourite track, "Lights On," begins with soft rapid bass glazed with an off kilter synth before mellowing out for the verse; a prelude to when the melody kicks in for the chorus ("When I trust you, we can do it with the lights on") a melody that's so infectious that it had me wondering what the hell I was listening to the first I listened to it. The song is definitely reminiscent of the sound black artists that are thought to make R&B music--but are actually more adventurous and versatile--I'm talking your Aaliyah's and Janet Jackson's. The song sounds like a avant-garde take on the traditional R&B song and I'm in love with it.

Other favourites include, "Pendulum," "Video Weeks," the single, "Two Weeks," and the almost gothic-inspired, "Closer." Check out some of the tracks below, if you're also late to the party:


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