Last April FKA twigs announced her long awaited come back. Comprehensibly, the release of her brand new single, “Cellophane”, was welcomed with enthusiasm by fans. Almost four years had passed from 2015 EP M3LL155X, and many things had happened in the personal life of the artist since: from an operation to remove benign uterine tumors to the relationship with the American actor Robert Pattinson, gathering a morbid attention from tabloids and media, which often reported the relationship in a sexist and racist way.
It is from this experience that “Cellophane” comes to life. The transparent plastic wrap becomes a metaphor for a relationship steadily subject to media scrutiny. In the gorgeous videoclip which comes with the song, she pole-dances alone while a crowd is heard frantically shouting. It is an image that magnificently expresses the grace of a relationship but at the same time its vulnerability when exposed to social judgment.
That single reveals a lot of MAGDALENE. It is an album with many autobiographical features, intimate and delicate as a confession but, at the same time, able to adress numerous contemporary issues. The choice of the title is revealing: Mary Magdalene, cousin of Holy Mary, in the Christian tradition is always considered a disciple of Jesus, a secondary character who exists only according to the protagonist. Reversing the perspective, twigs elevates her to the protagonist. It is a brilliant and powerful statement.
Considering this main focus, even the sound landscape becomes more melodic, sweet and delicate than in the past. However, FKA twigs does not renounce to cross-genre experimentation that always distinguished her, but she softens its more angular and gloomy expressions, favoring piano ballads and touching melodic lines. “Home With You” is a magnificent example, starting with a solo piano and voice and then adding minimal electronics and an epic orchestral closing.
The opener “Thousand Eyes” instead has a sacral aura, a mystical effect given by the vocalisms of twigs multiplying like in a Gregorian choir. More than ever twigs voice is the leading actor of the play, also thanks to an incredible production work that supports it firmly without ever taking over. Nothing surprising considering the beautifully varied team of producer featured on the album, from Nicolas Jaar to Benny Blanco, Skrillex, Noah Goldstein and pop hit maker Jack Antonoff, to name a few.
With MAGDALENE FKA twigs performs a small miracle, reaching an uneasy balance between content, narrative richness, melodic expressiveness and sound research. It is probably her best work so far, and for sure one of the best albums of the year.