With the release of “CAPRISONGS,” the latest mixtape by British singer-songwriter, producer and dancer FKA twigs, it seemed the unthinkable had happened. FKA twigs had finally given the girls something to throw it back to.
The artist has long been known for her electronic-pop tracks that pair experimental production with ethereal, often anguished soprano vocals. Her earliest works, including “EP1” (2012), “EP2” (2013) and her debut album “LP1” (2014), often found her playing the part of the unrequited lover over moody production inspired by trip-hop, opera and industrial music. Most recently, her second album, “MAGDALENE” (2019), addressed the wrenching heartbreak of her separation from actor Robert Pattinson.
So, to see FKA twigs embrace her pop side and a new era of healing, friendship and joy through “CAPRISONGS” is particularly poignant. In an Instagram post announcing the new mixtape, twigs clarified that its themes would be nothing like the pain that characterized works like “MAGDALENE” or “LP1.” “CAPRISONGS… it’s bronzer in the sink, alco pop on the side, a cherry lolly, apple juice when ur thirsty, friends in the park, your favourite person … just togetherness,” twigs wrote.
“CAPRISONGS” is structured as a mixtape made for a best friend. Twigs even adds cassette player clicks to make the record sound more intimate. Voicemail messages from twigs’ best friends appear throughout the mixtape, and one particularly memorable moment occurs in the outro to “oh my love,” when twigs’ friend Abigail Sakari dishes out some advice: “We’ve not got a long time here, so love yourself, know your worth and fuck crying over these stupid boys that don’t even recognise the worth in themselves …”
While her music has always drawn from a diverse array of genres, twigs leans into her London roots on “CAPRISONGS,” particularly through her use of British musical trends. “Papi bones” incorporates a dancehall beat perfect for a raunchy call-and-response between twigs and club icon Shygirl. Meanwhile, “darjeeling” finds twigs on a UK drill beat rapping alongside British artists Jorja Smith and Unknown T about the struggles and wonders of the London music scene.
This blend of British beats and contemporary hip-hop trends makes the mixtape ideal for a night out. Bass-heavy tracks like “ride the dragon” and “honda” are perfect for the part of the night when the drinks are still being poured in thick streams and every beat thumps a little harder and slower than usual. And it’s impossible not to dance along to the frenetic, fast-paced club beat of “pamplemousse.” twigs delivers lyrics like “Me and the girls with our phones out / Eight SimiHaze, looking Girl Scouts, wow” with clipped, robotic vocals, as if mutating her voice into an additional layer of metallic beats.
For the most part, “CAPRISONGS” realizes its themes of healing and self-discovery. I’ve often heard the mixtape in the background during moments of warmth and “togetherness.” In a friend’s dorm, “ride the dragon” played as we took turns sipping an absurd, strangely tinny green-apple-flavored drink and scribbling hearts and crudely-drawn “MOM” tattoos on each other’s arms. And I even heard “papi bones” at an Enchanted Broccoli Forest party while dancing and laughing with friends.
Still, I find myself returning again and again to the third track of the mixtape, “meta angel,” as if the cassette tape keeps jamming there. Maybe I’m drawn to the moments of rupture, the moments when the process of healing begins to show its cracks. Unlike other tracks on the mixtape, with their exuberant dancehall beats or grime verses, “meta angel” is almost austere in its composition: just a faint piano arrangement layered with twigs’ soprano vocals and harsh electronic production.
twigs’ voice, so distorted it seems to echo from 1,000 miles away, cries out in the post-chorus: “I’ve got a love for desire / I’ve got a pain for desire.” The song immediately explodes into a rapid drum machine clap, a shuddering sequence of electronic sounds that stab into the listener’s body, if only to reach and touch the heart. There’s a certain pain to this song: the fear of finding yourself alone again, still unsure of whether you love yourself yet.
I used to listen to “meta angel” while cutting through the Munger residences on the way back from friends’ places. At 3 a.m., the lamplights blurred and dissolved in the dark; I often felt adrift and alone, as if I were melting into the air. It always seemed like a while before I’d make it home. “CAPRISONGS,” then, felt like both the life of the party and the loneliness after the party; it felt like twigs’ reminder that healing is never a linear process but, despite it all, we will be okay.
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.