FKA twigs CAPRISONGS Young
There’s something so intimate about a mixtape. It scratches a creative itch that drag-and-dropping tracks into a Spotify playlist just doesn’t satisfy. Mixtapes burst with excitement; they’re lovesick missives to prospective significant others, both meticulous and a little evasive. They’re certainly not casual affairs – if you’re a beneficiary of an old-school mixtape, rest assured that its creator thought long and hard about what they were doing, how to do it, and how it would be received.
Similarly, FKA twigs wouldn’t know “casual” if it fell on her from a 20-foot stripper pole in eight-inch platform stilettos. From her music and her choreography to her enthralling live performances and mind-expanding music videos, you would be hard pressed to find one hair out of place. But on CAPRISONGS, her sort-of follow-up to 2019’s critical juggernaut MAGDALENE, she’s revealing her playful side. The very first thing you hear is a cassette clicking into a tape deck, and twigs softly saying: “Hey. I made you a mixtape.” It’s unquestionable that she is speaking directly to you, the listener, the spiritual stand-in for all her past lovers and friends. As the intro to ride the dragon stutters into focus, it brusquely transforms into a bouncy, low-key pop number. “If you really wanna kiss me/ Do it quickly, before the end of the song,” twigs sings, with just the hint of a smirk. This is as radio-friendly as she has ever been, and as ready-to-party, albeit in her own pared down, whimsical way.
CAPRISONGS is very much a mixtape and not an album, both in the hip-hop sense and the indie nerd sense. It’s brimming with impressive collabs: the Weeknd, Jorja Smith, Shygirl and Rema are just a few of the heavy hitters lending their talents. It’s executive produced by twigs and El Guincho, the Spanish producer best known for spearheading the tropicália revival of the late 00s and, more recently, being Rosalía’s primary collaborator. Their partnership gives the mixtape a nasty edge; honda, which features a blistering verse from Coventry rapper Pa Salieu, is a hot and sweltering highlight, with Afrobeat percussions tumbling over angelic harmonies.
While CAPRISONGS does a great job at maintaining this new, seemingly club-focused atmosphere fairly seamlessly, there are moments where the sheen dulls slightly. Take the lead track and Weeknd duet tears in the club: from Womack & Womack to Robyn, at this point the concept of ‘crying on the dancefloor’ is a tried-and-true cliché, and while it would be a standout track on anyone else’s project, it seems like a lateral move at best for an artist as innovative as twigs, both conceptually and musically.
But nothing FKA twigs does is an accident. The track that most resembles what we’ve come to expect from her as an artist is the closing thank you song, which opens with a stately piano melody and the stark words: “I wanted to die/ I’m just being honest.” The party is over, the empty bottles are clinking around the kitchen floor and you’re still in your feelings, but somehow, you’re better off than you were the night before. “Thank you, thank you/ I’m OK,” twigs sings in the chorus, the message at the end of her mixtape. And whether it represents a new direction for twigs’ sound or just a different expression of her creative drive, it will certainly go down as an indelible chapter in the story of one of contemporary pop’s most intriguing minds.