FKA twigs announced her last album, the gorgeous, expansive MAGDALENE, with “cellophane,” a stunning ballad about a relationship on the brink of collapse. “Didn’t I do it for you?” she murmured over and over again, her tears almost palpable as she sang of the turmoils of a heavily scrutinized romance. MAGDALENE as a whole seemed to delineate twigs’ sorrows with a poignant directness, trading her clubby beats in for a more visceral art-pop.
twigs wrote CAPRISONGS, her new mixtape, entirely during quarantine, a time when many artists voiced their woes about feeling distanced from their peers. In a statement, she described the project as her “journey back to [herself] through [her] amazing collaborators and friends,” and its tone is a stark 180 from MAGDALENE from the start: “Hey, I made you a mixtape,” she whispers in the first seconds of opening track “ride the dragon.” “Because when I feel you, I feel me, and when I feel me, it feels good.”
Though it’d be easy to brush off this playful intro as cloying, in comparison to the sense of isolation she imparted on MAGDALENE, this sense of camaraderie she immediately establishes feels essential and healing.
Even without looking at its stacked list of guest features, CAPRISONGS, out Friday (January 14th), feels more communal, too. Executive produced by twigs herself alongside Spanish beatmaster El Guincho, the mixtape sees twigs waver through a slew of subgenres: She winks at Latin trap (“honda”), hypnotizes with ethereal R&B (“careless”), and puts her own spin on frenetic electro-pop (“pamplemousse”) all within the project’s 17 tracks.
Though twigs has never been one to pigeonhole herself, CAPRISONGS is perhaps the most explicit example of her ample supply of influences, only further testifying to her status as one of the decade’s most innovative pop musicians.
Especially considering MAGDALENE’s straightforward demands for respect (“Do you still think I’m beautiful when you light me in flames?” she sang on “holy terrain”), it’s pertinent to listen to CAPRISONGS in the context of twigs’ December 2020 lawsuit against her ex-boyfriend, Shia LaBeouf, whom she accused of sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.
Additionally, twigs claimed LaBeouf’s controlling behavior began hindering her music career; CAPRISONGS is her first release since their relationship, which twigs said “brought [her] so low that the idea of leaving him and having to work [herself] back up just seemed impossible.”
twigs alludes to the euphoria of feeling free from such a maligning relationship on CAPRISONGS’ most radio-ready highlight, The Weeknd-featuring lead single “tears in the club”: “I wanna take my clothes off, wanna touch/ My hips, my thighs, my hair, not yours, all mine,” she proclaims, asserting her autonomy over an undulating bassline.
The song loses some steam in its trite chorus: “Tears in the club/ ‘Cause you’re love’s got me fucked up,” she echoes perhaps a few too many times over. But now that her trauma is out for the world to dissect and opine about, “tears in the club” — like the “Shake It Off”s and “Dancing On My Own”s before it — leans on the evergreen mantra that losing yourself in music is often the best way to find yourself again.
CAPRISONGS might not be as immediately arresting as twigs’ previous work, but it shouldn’t have to be; MAGDALENE saw her bear it all, and to expect her to divulge her deepest anguish once more would border on unscrupulous demands.
CAPRISONGS isn’t meant to be the most profound work of twigs’ career, a discography that’s set the bar immensely high. Instead, it acts as her stepping stone towards recentering herself — and that journey alone should be applauded.
Essential Tracks: “tears in the club,” “papi bones,” “careless”