LP1 Album Review
Young Turks Records
Released August 6, 2014
Genre: R&B, Trip Hop, Electronica, Dream Pop, Artpop
So rare is it that a pop-star rattles the music community with such progressive vigour. Normally we push these advancements into the peripheries until we perceive them relevant and label them ‘ahead of their time.’ London based singer FKA Twigs transcends this phenomena, she cultivates a new visual and musical epoch for pop. In some ways I feel that the recent popularity of neo-soul in both the mainstream and alternative spheres have led up to Twigs’ breakthrough. While a lot of the acclaim accredited to Twigs can be accounted to her empowering stances on sexuality, her involvement as a Young Turks prodigy and her complex mystique, LP1 is a documentation of Twigs pushing pop in the right direction.
Making heavy use of reverb, opening track “Preface” is a taster of LP1’s proficient take on mass layering. Harmonies are stacked on top of each other as thick drum samples bound off the walls of the mix, creating a genuine house of mirrors atmosphere. And these off-kilter dimensions are maintained throughout; things are not what they seem within the realms of LP1. Puzzling tones of synths loom slowly in from every direction while minimalist percussion opens the floor for some of the lushest vocals of 2014. Operating mainly in a higher register, nuances of fragility creep through Twigs’ often candid guise as she hints to a past of fractured romances – some may harbour qualms of weakness but I think Twigs’ courage is found in her humanity and her resonance as an enlightening figure.
With a production roster of this magnitude, LP1 was never going to fall short. Armed to the teeth in talent, LP1 features input from Young Turks peer Sampha, Clams Casino and the growing talent of Emile Haynie. All with an obvious reverence for Twigs’ voice, the producers have all put their stamp on their respective tracks, a diversity that can be heard in the way each instrumental develops. It ranges from the purging tones that descend throughout ‘Two Weeks’ to ‘Hours’, co-written by Devonte Hynes, in which haunting rests build a tension of the unknown, like hearing footsteps behind you at night.
Thematically Twigs’ debut breaches new terrain in terms of what is and isn’t shied away from in pop circles. Not to say that there is such a thing as ‘taboo’, Minaj’s Anaconda is as proof of that as anything, but rather veers into the depths of the unsettling. Grappling with more provocative shades than most pop singers, dealing with attitudes towards pornography, betrayal and the feeling of insignificance, Twigs’ experience is laid on the dissecting table, unfiltered.
And in keeping with this, LP1 is truly an extension of the artist. An appreciation for RNB, modern and classic, soul and Trip-Hop, in fact ‘Numbers’ is comparable to a Portishead cut mixed by the Mad Hatter, the beats are consistently challenging but never incoherent or contrived. The musicianship may take some time to adjust to but becomes increasingly accessible with more listens to the extent that the simpler tracks, like the hymnal ‘Closer’, don’t strike as hot as the more experimental instrumentals.
LP1 is the pop record that’s been brewing beneath the brine for all too long. What Channel Orange or 21 accomplished for their fields, LP1 has trail-blazed for the contemporary pop audience. Never over-encumbered or sacrificial, Twigs has shattered preconceived notions of what a pop record ‘should be’ because a pop record shouldn’t ‘be’ anything and I feel Twigs has opened our eyes to that. A cathartic step into ecstasy, LP1 is the current forerunner for progressive pop.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Two Weeks / Lights / Video Girls
LEAST FAV TRACK: Closer