It would not be a lie to say that we have an tremendous girl crush on Gloucestershire babe, Tahlia Barnett of FKA Twigs. Her previous work EP2 touched us in all the right places, and we have been itching for a full length album ever since. Finally, her studio record LP1 will drop August 12 on her Young Turks label, and we were lucky enough to get a sneaky preview. Here’s what we think (short version – you NEED to get this album!)
LP1 is a meticulously balanced display of yin and yang, light and dark, familiar and alien, which first becomes apparent with the artwork from Jesse Kanda. This quirky yet beautiful image presents Barnett as a coquettish doll like figure with high colours against a saturated blue background. When you look closer however you realise that this innocent imagery is completely perverse and foreign. Her hair is lopsided, her make up is a shiny red circle spreading strangley from the centre of her face and her eyes possess a deeply haunted look that you are unable to tear your gaze from. This juxtaposition flows on throughout the entire record, flawlessly blending into an original sound, comparable only to artists such as Björk or Thom York who also successfully toe this line – just without the trip hop, R&B elements…
Barnett’s ethereal vocals commence the album in ‘Prelude’, brushing the notes in hypnotic, spiritual way. The pulsing beat brings in unearthly layers and you instantly know this is going to be something unlike you have heard before. The two singles ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘Pendulum’ are obvious stand outs on the record. We have previously reviewed ‘Two Weeks’ here and it is still one of our favourites, bringing out the sassiness of her Jamaican/Spanish heritage with lines such as “I can fuck you better…” ‘Pendulum’ on the other hand is a huge track of magnificent swinging harmonies, rapturous crescendos, and what can only be described as woodpecker synths – trust us when we say it is nothing short of amazing.
The rest of the album delivers solid, mesmerising production and aesthetics matched with Barnett’s flawless melodies. ‘Lights On’ conveys both an uncomfortable, yet poppy composition, while she experiments with samples and textural sounds. Tracks ‘Hours’ and ‘Numbers’ incorporate industrial, grinding rrhythms behind loops of Barnett’s pure vocals. Then you have ‘Video Girl’ which leaves a heavy unsettling feeling in your stomach with the fusion of futuristic sci-fi elements, whilst ‘Numbers’ is a looped track with midnight echoing synths, and jealousy accusations “was i just a number”. ‘Closer’ has a genuine a choral chastity, which pairs with the rhythmic sweetness of ‘Give Up.’ Finally, the last track ‘Kicks’ completes the album with a ballad of breathy synth breaks and confessions “what do i do when you’re not here”.
You could spend hours deconstructing the paradox of Barnett’s immaculate cloying vocals vs the gritty, estranged production throughout this record, but all you really need to know is it’s just good. FKA Twigs has triumphantly created such a unique and innovative sound which is both seductive, haunting, tender, glitchy, and probably any other describing word you could possibly think of. It is an album so perfectly balanced that nothing seems too much, and with each listen you are certain to find a small gem that you missed the last time. We are calling it, Tahlia Barnett is the future, make sure you don’t get left behind!
You can pre order the album from iTunes.