FKA Twigs is here to vibe and judging by the tongue-in-cheek spoken word passages scattered across her new mixtape, she wants you to know it. Her last full-length, 2019’s Magdalene, was a grand, cohesive and fully-realised statement of artistic intent, filled with lyrics that revealed harrowing personal truths. While rich and colourful sonically, at no point across Magdalene’s 38 minutes and 48 seconds did the British singer-songwriter sound as if she was having any fun. Twigs, however, deserves to be able to make a happy record – or at least a care-free one – and Caprisongs, by and large, is that record.
The mixtape format – as opposed to a full-length album – takes much of the pressure off Twigs to follow up Magdalene with something equally impactful. Appropriately, Caprisongs radiates a newfound lightness, moving between pop and R&B – and even infusing drill and hyper-pop in the process. Unlike previous Twigs projects, Caprisongs is packed with features – from The Weeknd and Pa Salieu to Jorja Smith and Shygirl. The world of Caprisongs is large and inclusive, with much of the mixtape’s 48 minutes given over to other’s; be it one of eight officially featured guests, or her many personal friends who pop on spoken-words tidbits – each sharing varying levels of wisdom on matters ranging from self-confidence and single-living to…umm…..astrology. Despite this, Caprisongs is unmistakably Twigs’ own; few others could this effectively infuse classic R&B and electro–pop, while continuing to produced results *this* engaging and consistently innovative.
In late 2020, Twigs came forward with a series of damning and credible allegations of repeated physical and emotional abuse against American actor Shia LeBouf. It was reasonable to wonder whether Twigs’ follow-up to Magdalene would focus on this and the ensuing trauma. Caprisongs doesn’t just not do this, but it actively sees Twigs run towards love and intimacy with a joie de vivre that feels genuinely radical and defiant in the face of her personal experiences. ‘Pamplemousse’ paints a scene of Twigs and her girlfriends that is reminiscent of a Mean Girls scene (“Me and the girls with our phones out”), before she teases a lover in the chorus (“You love to tell them that you don’t, but yeah, you love it”). On opener ‘Ride The Dragon’, Twigs confidently paints a picture of intense mutual desire – crying “Really wanna kiss me” over a pulsating, ever-fastening beat. Meanwhile, on Pa Salieu feature ‘Honda’, the stakes are considerably lower – Twigs just wants someone to “smoke” and “roll it” with. Even one of the most melancholic tracks lyrically – ‘Tears in The Club’ – is too big a bop to get properly sad listening to.
There are a handful of more sombre moments on Twigs only mixtape to date. “Darjeeling” is quietly sociopolitical, and is rooted in Twigs – as well as Jorja Smith and Unknown T’s – British identities; name dropping “Caldmore Green”, “Mayfair” and “Crystal Palace”. Smith steals the show here, but each artist contributes something widely different – and utterly vital – to the track. What begins as a straightforward Twigs song (well, as straightforward as a Twigs song can be) snowballs into a deeply affecting anthem for the disaffected and overlooked.
Caprisongs’ emotional centrepiece, ultimately, is it’s closer ‘Thank You Song’. Over understated piano playing, Twigs sings “I wanted to die, I’m just being honest / No longer afraid to say it out loud”; her voice rising to the forefront of the mix, it’s majesty on full display. In the second verse, she paints a moving picture of intimacy, detailing a bad dream (“I must’ve cried out ‘cause you were awake / You turned on the light as you put me closer / Love in motion seems to save me now”. ‘Thank You Song’ stands so distinctively on a different plain to the rest of the album that it brings into question the approach of all the preceding 16 tracks. Trust Twigs to pull such a left-field move just as listeners settle into the album’s groove. Still, we should’ve seen it coming: on opener ‘Ride The Dragon’ she warned “I’m still that mysterious being”. Indeed, she is.
Best tracks: Meta Angel, Tears In The Club, Oh My Love, Jealousy, Careless, Darjeeling, Thank You Song
Worst Track: Christi Interlude