Monday, August 17, 2015

M3LL155X | FKA twigs

She may have released one of the best albums of last year, but FKA twigs didn't waste much time to embrace the success of LP1. After cryptic, sporadic releases of "Glass & Patron" and "Figure 8" this year, she now forges forward with M3LL155X, an audiovisual extended play that already shows unforeseeable growth and experimentation.

Production this time around backhands listeners with gloomy, jagged-edged digital hits, but it is equally as intricate as that on LP1; a new element jumps out each time I replay these five tracks. But it does not bury twigs' shrill voice, which can still ooze some smooth seduction even underneath various electronic filters used on most of these tracks. The two must-hear tracks of the extended play, "In Time" and "Mothercreep," impress with mesmerizing production and vocal acrobatics. "In Time" may be the most striking departure from her past work - her vocals are run through a freaky vocoder, and the soundscape behind her, though not unreasonably changed from her first two EPs and debut LP, sits in the intersection of Kimbra's The Golden Echo, Purity Ring's Shrines, and Grimes' Visions. Meanwhile, "Mothercreep" borrows a melody very similar to twigs' own "Hide" and places it over progressively chaotic instrumentation - definitely worth a listen.

"Glass & Patron," a track released in March as part of the YouTube Music Awards, alternates fragility and fierceness - a borderline that twigs has traveled along since the beginning. "So do you have a lighter? / Am I dancing sexy yet? / I can't wait to make your body my own," she sings before a dark chorus possesses her: "1, 2, 3, now hold that pose for me." (Don't worry - in case you're wondering or haven't been able to tell by now, her lyrics are still ultra erotic.) And speaking of things of a sexual nature, we come to "I'm Your Doll." In the extended play's visual companion, her head is planted atop an inflatable sex doll for this gritty number that explores the dominance of a male's lust and the disposable use of a female's body. She may waft through the lyrics with breathy delivery, but it's all fun and games only until you read into the lyrics.

With twigs' standards set so high based by just debut album, I was interested to see where she could take her next release. So, overall, where did she take her sound? Darker, grittier, and weirder - all qualities that contrast the delicate voice that commands the vision and ties everything together. It's an unhinging affair that makes twigs' recent vogue dance influences clear. ("In Time" makes for a hell of a dance routine for twigs in the video.) Moving away from tranquility and onto harshness, M3LL155X is an ever-so-slight change for twigs - and it's unbelievably refreshing. My only massive complaint? The fact that the set is not titled EP3.

M3LL155X is out now under Young Turks.

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