Album Review: ‘Magdalene’ – FKA Twigs

A sequel to the success of her debut studio album ‘LP1’, FKA Twigs’s Magdalene is, yet again, a work of art. From the futuristic sounding ‘Holy Terrain’ to the reflective ‘Mirrored Heart’  Twigs expresses the power of the divine feminine in modern society.  The album has a sound world which transports back to ancient times, a nod to Mary Magdalene. As well as, her signature alternative R&B sound in artistry and music production. 

‘Thousand Eyes’ opens the album with an acapella opening, a threat, ‘if I walk out the door’. Chant like, this phrase is repeated creating an ethereal intrigue which urges to listen on. Reference to waking ‘a thousand eyes’ prefaces the feeling of vulnerability explored in the album, and later confirmed in the final track ‘Cellophane’. 

Female power is the main focus of this album and a main message in the title track ‘Magdalene’. Opening pan flute synths, chimes and prayer bowls alludes to a biblical time, appropriate for the character of Mary Magdalene. Lyrics are evocative of the struggles of womanhood and being detached from the narrative of a man ‘a woman’s time to embrace she must put herself first’. ‘Magdalene’ forms the basis of the concept of this album about self discovery and femininity and is referenced in many of the tracks. 

A collaborative track ‘Holy Terrain’ returns to FKA Twigs’ celebrated alt R&B beats style. Despite this, it balances out the album and continues with the concept of feminine energy. Future sing-raps about his downfall as a man, an apology which asks for healing from Magdalene. 

The promotional single ‘Cellophane’ depicts a softer side to Twigs’ usual gritty and dense pieces. The extended metaphor of cellophane paints the feeling of being trapped and constantly under public scrutiny in a relationship. A rather stripped back style of piano, vocals and low strings creates an intimate feel which pushes the lyrics forward, especially the repeated question ‘Didn’t I do it for you?’.  Subtle beatboxing throughout, seen as whispers of onlookers, underpins the constricted feeling of this track. ‘Cellophane’ draws Magdalene to a reflective close and, perhaps, a criticism of the media and lack of privacy.

It is safe to say that this album is reflective, sensitive and yet empowering. FKA Twigs expresses feminine energy and a clear cut concept and journey throughout. Fragility and struggle is balanced with power and freedom, the complexity of the feminine.

Review By: Hannah Kennedy