To say that LP1 is one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts is no overstatement: the industry hype machine certainly got in a flurry with the arrival of this unique chanteuse. The road to LP1 was forged by a meticulously-crafted series of curiosity-sparking videos, genre and gender-exploring tracks and a constant air of mystique only slightly cracked by a series of low key live performances and a handful of carefully-selected cover features that proved twigs to be truly out on her own in the field.
The reveal of the album cover, her face a canvas blushed with paint, wasn’t the only statement to suggest who was in control. Known to distort her own image in visual accompaniment to her previous EPs and through conscious allusions to previous figures including Sade and Aaliyah (is that line in Two Weeks meant to sound just like Beyonce’s Sweet Dreams?), twigs played to our relentlessly self-referencing era, and constantly wrestled the industry’s conceptions of her into her own hands. And true to form, much like how the FKA twigs aesthetic arrived fully formed, LP1 sounds like nothing that came before it.
In mood and content, LP1 is a constant tease, an exploration of prolonged ecstasy that never offers full relief. twigs’ soft breathy falsetto leads a string of erotically charged nocturnes, weightless bombasts of lust, sex and power struggles that subtly and incessantly flip between passive and dominant roles. Thick smoggy pads, fluttering melodies, off-centre beats and that signature clack-a-lacking pendulum percussion take moody, morphing RnB and obscure it even further. A mixture of frosty catharsis and extended ecstasy, LP1 is very much an internal record: an eyes closed introspective on grapples for power at the hands of a impenetrable lover, or internal abandonment in the absence of one.
Final track Kicks is a perfect example of this. Lead lyric “Tell me, what do I do when you’re not here?” is the most flatly suggestive of the album (as she explained in our interview, “I get myself off. And I’m better at it than you!”). Equal parts cold passivity and sexual liberation, it’s a display of authority that sees twigs once again seizing power, quite literally, with her own hands.
Sure, LP1’s sometimes cluttered mixture of production doesn’t carry as many catchy hooks or defining moments as the tracks that preceded it, but in today’s over-saturated landscape, the hardest thing you can do as a musician is to sound like yourself. A true original, LP1 sees FKA twigs breaking from the doctrine of the mainstream to hone a style that could reach canonical status.