The Minimalism of Tahliah Barnett: FKA Twigs’ LP1
IN RECENT years we’ve begun to see an increase in the ‘minimalist’ approach to music. There’s Kanye West’s modern masterpiece Yeezus and, this year, ‘Lad rockers’ Kasabian attempted to channel Kanye on 48:13, a truly disappointing album, full of dodgy beats and even worse lyrics. But we’re not here to talk about Kanye or Kasabian. We’re here to talk about Tahliah Barnett, or as you may know her: FKA Twigs.
Barnett has had an interesting career: just glancing at her Wikipedia page will tell you that she’s been a backing dancer for some pretty big names. Her two EPs attracted a lot of attention, leading to her being nominated for the BBC Sound of 2014 award, which Sam Smith won. Now she’s got an album out; a nice little number with a fantastically minimalist name. LP1 has so far received rave reviews from critics, so naturally I was expecting the best.
I went in with high expectations. “This album will no doubt top critics’ lists come years end,” I thought to myself. On first listen, there is absolutely no doubt that FKA Twigs is a very talented individual. What’s nice about her songs are that they feel very personal. The entire album feels like it’s Barnett, a synthesizer and a drum machine in a bedroom singing about her life. “Was I just a number to you?” She croons on ‘Numbers’ over a near-dubstep beat. Like West and Kasabian, LP1 is dominated by ‘minimalist’ sounds, but this works in a different way to those aforementioned albums. Twigs uses the simplistic beats and light keys of her album to exhibit what she can achieve with her astounding vocals.
Singles ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘Pendulum’ are two standout tracks on the album, and rightly so. There is something about them that’s hard to dislike. Each listen draws you more and more into the world of FKA Twigs. Album closer ‘Kicks’ also rounds off the album nicely. The album is slow paced, taking its time and letting the listener immerse themselves in the music. The beats are not unlike those of Bristol-based band Portishead, and Barnett’s combination of trip hop and R&B is a match made in heaven.
However, despite the incredible talent of FKA Twigs, I can’t say this album blew me away. It met my expectations; Tahliah Barnett has a very unique voice and her songs draw you into their deeper meanings, but that was that. LP1 did not take my breath away. I do however feel that with numerous listens, I may grow to understand a deeper meaning within the work of FKA Twigs. We should watch her progression with great interest; she has so much more to offer, but hasn’t told us what yet.
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