Published Nov 05, 2019FKA twigs' Magdalene is a treatise on trauma, on healing and on the connective tissue between the emotional and rational. Tahliah Debrett Barnett has endured heartbreak and a body that was literally breaking down. The experiences have left the English singer and songwriter with a perspective on life and living that inform this nine-track album, her first full length since 2014's LP1 and first project since 2015 EP M33LL155X.
As such, Magdalene is high functioning without pretence, seeks recompense for past injustices and is grounded in theories of self-determination as it strives for stability. Despite drawing from avant-garde, pop, R&B, hip-hop and electronic movements, the soprano revels in her "no labels' aesthetic; her aptitude in dance and visual expression manifests itself in audio-visual works like the tour de force that is "Cellophane," the operatic of "Thousand Eyes" and the hush and sparseness of "Home With You."
With its pop and dance sensibility, "Sad Day" is haunting and emotive, while a soundscape of piano and synth marks "Fallen Alien." And it is the lyrics of "Home With You" that best define this endeavour: "The more you pull away / The more they depend on you."
At the same time, the songwriting veers on the simplistic — case in point, "Daybed" — yet the intent, execution and expression is pure. But the ominous feel of the entire project overwhelms, in parts, with a forlorn sense of distance and dread — which appears to be the point — yet its subsuming sense of femininity, sexuality, free will and determinism paradoxically draws us in.
In portrait mode, Magdalene tears down the metaphorical walls — aurally, visually, physically — to build back up a wholly realized self. (Young Turks)