Review: MAGDALENE by FKA twigs

When FKA twigs released ‘cellophane’, the lead single from her new album MAGDALENE in April, I was blown away by how such a beautifully minimal song was able to convey such intense vulnerability. With the accompanying music video in which twigs performs a pole dancing routine before falling into an underworld, the overall effect shows just how powerful she is; both mentally and physically. Andrew Thomas Huang, the director of the music video, referenced the surgery which twigs underwent to remove fibroid tumours prior to working on the new album as inspiring her to learn how to pole dance. Knowing that she only started to learn how to perform on the pole a year before filming the music video, the intensity expressed becomes even more intoxicating and emotional.

As is clear, I had extremely high expectations for this album; being three years since her last release, I knew it was going to be special, but I was genuinely surprised at how engrossed I was from start to finish. The album opens with ‘thousand eyes’ which describes the public relationship she had with Robert Pattinson, which ended in 2017. In an interview with Zane Lowe, she speaks of wanting to find out she was following the end of the high-profile relationship, especially in light of the exposure it entailed: “if you don’t pull me back, it wakes a thousand eyes” (‘thousand eyes’). When listening to the song you are really able to sense the emotion she was feeling at each stage of the relationship, during and after the breakup.

‘home with you’ is a song about being there for others whilst also being there for yourself. twigs speaks of a time in her life that she describes as “chaotic” but everyone on the outside perceived her as being in control. Writing for Genius, she notes the importance of telling people what you need when you need it. Rather than giving people a guilt trip, she says how important it is to be honest – “I didn’t know that you were lonely // if you’d have just told me, I’d be home with you” (‘home with you’).

Another favourite of mine on the album is ‘mirrored heart’. With this song she references how people say that the person you are in a relationship with should reflect who you are as a person. On the song she remembers that she does not have a “mirrored heart”.

As the album progresses it becomes clear that twigs is an unstoppable force. As she rebuilds herself following the breakup and surgery, she clearly grows into a stronger and more powerful version of the person she was before. Compared to her first album, her voice on MAGDALENE is significantly stronger and more vulnerable. In the live performances of this album it is clear just how open and vulnerable she is; she has been openly sobbing during performances of ‘mirrored heart’ which shows just how broken and lonely she felt following her heartbreak.

Clearly, I love this album, and have been listening to it non-stop since it was released. twigs outdid herself and I really recommend sitting down and listening to it in full. I don’t want to be overly dramatic but the first time I listened to it I felt like I had transcended. The production, instrumentals and vocals create an all-encompassing experience where you really get a sense of what she has been going through in recent years and her openness is beautiful. If you have never listened to FKA twigs before, the rest of her discography is equally incredible, and I am sure you will not be disappointed.

– Tilly Attrill


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