A band that is really taking the indie world by storm lately is FKA Twigs (Tahliah Barnett). They were one of the most highly anticipated sets at Coachella a few weeks back and they have basically been on repeat on my CD player at home. Their first effort, EP2, featured 4 songs that were something completely new and different to me. The intricate and diverse instrumentals paired with Tahliah’s emotion filled vocals makes for an imposing listening experience. If you’ve heard this band before, you know it’s them playing the second they come on. It’s not like this style hasn’t been done before, but their sound is so expertly crafted and unique that it makes them easy to distinguish from other RnB acts.
Onto their first full length album, LP1. I was not disappointed by this effort. I had very high hopes after hearing what was a sensational set of songs on EP2 (where my favorite was Ultraviolet, which is the least know of the 4 tracks) . You get 10 songs that are different sounding enough from each other as to not make the album sound repetitive at any point.
1. Preface (6/10)-I’m generally not a fan of when bands decide to start off an album with a preface or an intro (this is an exception to that). Thus, this doesn’t have much to offer despite featuring the way talented vocals of Tahliah.
2. Lights On (7.5/10)-Pretty simplistic in nature. Few lyrics, although they are clearly very personal to the vocalist. I don’t like the differing tempo in this song. They usually pull this off nicely but here it just sounds disjointed and doesn’t work on this track. It does feature a good closing, though.
3. Two Weeks (10/10)-This is the track that generated all the buzz for LP1. You’re drawn in right away with the ambient effects and Tahliah’s vocals on this track are nothing short of magnificent. The lyrics during the verses are nothing special but the chorus is when the song really takes off, due to the vocal/lyric combo and the continuing, almost trance-like vibe the instrumentals provide.
4. Hours (7.5/10)-This is one of the more stripped down tracks on the record. Other than some subtle instrumentals and percussion, it’s mostly Tahliah’s vocals which are at times distorted to provide that signature haunting effect that FKA Twigs is known for.
5. Pendulum (9/10)-This is a song that’s grown on me with many listens over time. I like the mix of less aggressive vocals showcased on the earlier part of the track contrasted with some of the more emphatic bits that come later in the song. The chorus is mesmerizing (especially with final sequence that begins @3:52).
6. Video Girl (7/10)-This song has garnered a lot of buzz amongst FKA Twigs followers but it is not a favorite of mine. It is mixed and mashed in this cool music vid advertising Google glass (which is a product that’s been scrapped last I heard). Alas, I don’t really care for the full version. Either because it’s too slowly developing with a disappointing chorus or it’s devoid of energy altogether.
7. Numbers (6.5/10)-To me, it sounds like a knock-off of Purity Ring’s “Amenamy”. You can see for yourself but other than the slight comparison, there’s not much this song does for me. Along with my complaint about “Video Girl” lacking enthusiasm, I would throw this in that category also but this song is even less progressive and doesn’t lead up to anything. However, it’s tracks like this one that set up the rest of the album and are welcome breaks from the intensity that most of the other tracks contain.
8. Closer (7/10)-Probably the most obscure and cryptic of all the songs on the album. This is due to the odd childlike vocals and the slightly more upbeat vibe that is not typical of most of their songs. It’s almost a RnB/Gospel cross which is intriguing but this song is so short it caps any interest rather quickly.
9. Give Up (9.5/10)-There’s a lot of things that I like about this song. The instrumental effect that opens the song and gets scattered throughout the track is probably my favorite aspect of it. But again, Barnett’s vocals and her dynamic range are showcased very well in this song. What also sticks out is the counterbalance between the dark and upbeat effects that mash together so deftly.
10. Kicks (7/10)-Not the closing track I was looking for from them. Was hoping they would go out with something big but this is an understated, minimalistic track. Not a bad song by any means but as I stated earlier, it serves more to set-up the more powerful songs on the album. Standing alone, it doesn’t have much to offer next to their other work.
Overall Rating: A-. Be sure to at least stream the album but it is worth buying. There are few bands that are capable of giving off such a spirited and vibrant sound with only a few select instruments.