CAPRISONGS: FKA Twigs and Learning to Heal
Gracefully retaining her signature melancholic voice and a flair for dramatics, English genre-bender FKA Twigs (née Tahliah Barnett) has returned to the masses with her sophomore album. Entitled CAPRISONGS, the mixtape stands as a deeply personal testament to Twigs’ artistic evolution and personal growth after multiple public rows with heartbreak, illness, and depression. Three years after the release of her notably somber MAGDALENE, Twigs delivers us a mixtape fit for a girls night out. Regardless of its variety or lengthy list of notable producers and features (including but not limited to Arca, Shygirl, Daniel Caesar, and The Weeknd), the true virtue of CAPRISONGS is the lesson of self-help that lies in the profound vulnerability of Twigs’s public recovery from equally public tribulations.
Prior to 2019, Twigs, of mixed English-Jamaican descent, had found herself the target of racist twitter vitriol and the notoriously unforgiving, British tabloids. Her engagement to actor Robert Pattinson faced particularly harsh scrutiny and was eventually broken apart by the pressures of public opinion, the stresses of a health scare, and an ensuing bout of depression. MAGDALENE’s release not long thereafter wrestles with the demons left in the wake of these tragedies:“cellophane,” the album’s closing track, wallows in feelings of inadequacy and dependency upon an increasingly tired love. All songs on the album are unified in their beautifully haunting vocals, underlying distortion, and irregular, at times inconsistent, tempos that disquiet listeners and send you headlong into your own personal fit of sadness.
Now, three years later, in CAPRISONGS, Twigs shows us that there is a way out. Although less experimental in genre, Twigs’s new mixtape is chalk full of recordings, conversations between friends, motivational monologues, and even an optimistic spiel from an astrologist to guide listeners to better days. It’s in these audiobytes that Twigs presents the first step to recovering from heartbreak— surrounding yourself with friends and fellow creatives, reintroducing yourself into lives outside of your own, finding mutual support.
Featuring club music pioneer Shygirl, “papi bones,” drawing heavily upon the upbeat genre of dancehall, promotes a brand of confidence aligned with sexual liberation and encourages the listener to take up their own space on the dance floor regardless of who’s watching. In direct contrast to her previous work, Twigs uses CAPRISONGS to reclaim space for herself to live free
from the opinions and expectations of others.
In “oh my love,” Twigs confronts an ongoing fling, taking initiative, a position of empowerment and a subversion of traditionally gendered expectations, in pursuing his affections. Simultaneously, Twigs prompts listeners to never waste our youth on unrequiting lovers, concluding her track with a uplifting message from friend Abigail Sakari reminding you to “Love yourself, know your worth, and / Fuck crying over these stupid boys that don’t even recognize the worth in themselves.”
CAPRISONGS ends with a partial return to the pensive introspection of MAGDALENE. Much akin to “cellophane,” “thank you song” is wrought from past struggle, except this time Twigs sings from beyond her hurdles and in gratitude to her lover— no longer weighed down by “cellophane’s” fatigue. Produced by Arca, this final track sees Twigs’s soprano distorted to magnify her normally light vocals and emphasize an overarching message: through vulnerability, reaching out, and sharing your recovery, you can learn to reinvest in love and avoid the pitfalls of the past. Healed from heartbreak and able to dance freely as a genuine, authentic self, you can be loved regardless of what anyone might have to say.
Rating: I N D Y
Julien Fagel is a freshman in the SFS studying CULP.