MAGDALENE- FKA twigs: A Review

Source: Pitchfork

Winta Tekle, Sahuaro News Editor


From the common outsider looking in, MAGDALENE by FKA twigs can be classified as your typical pop album: Auto-tune, eerie whisper singing reminiscent of Billie Ellish and love songs about heartbreak. But FKA twigs takes all this and spins it into an avant-garde masterpiece, creating one of the best albums of 2019.

MAGDALENE is a concept album deriving its inspiration from an unlikely figure: Mary Magdalene, a biblical woman. Mary was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ who worked with herbs and oils and used those skills to heal the wounded. But as history progressed, her image became tarnished, and she was labeled as a prostitute and even the lover/wife of Jesus. FKA twigs uses this to her advantage and plays into all versions of the depiction of Mary. It’s an empowering stance to take. Through the narrative of Mary Magdalene, twigs portrays herself as a suffering disciple, a woman merely viewed as the extension of a man. 

In the opening track, “thousand eyes“, FKA twigs is delivering operatic-like vocals. A distorted beat, including gongs and a synthesizer, builds in the background as she sings of heartbreak. Her sopranic singing becomes more intense once she reaches the chorus, crooning “it’s gonna be cold with all those eyes.” That’s the point of the song, and the album holistically. With every vocal strain or crescendo, it sounds organic. She sings “thousand eyes,” and every other song off the album, with all her might, like it could possibly be her last dying breath.

It’s what she does best. 

She details her pain through her experience with depression on “daybed,” with lyrics such as “dirty are my dishes, friendly are the fruit fly’s.” With the instrumental intensely building as twigs’ hymn-like vocals ring, this song wouldn’t feel out of place in a large drafty church with big stained glass mosaics surrounding its perimeter.

She closes the album with the track with “cellophane,” arguably one of the best songs on the album. The instrumentals are stripped bare, the only sound being a simple piano chord. Shuddering on the final words of the song, she closes the album with “I’m not enough”. A simple statement, but one that perfectly sums up her artistry. 

FKA twigs gives herself up entirely to these emotions, making it the most empowering body of work I’ve ever listened to. It is an ode to the sacrifices of Magdalene, and the presence she makes out of complete absence.