Earlier this month, FKA twigs released her second full-length LP, MAGDALENE, receiving much critical acclaim. The album is FKA twigs at her best: stunning vocals, impressive production, and incisive emotional density. Threading through these nine tracks are themes of strength and vulnerability, conveyed through an anonymous “alien” character FKA has created. However, at its core, this alien is more relatable than any human.
In an interview with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1, FKA explains she’s yet to see a character that is “beautifully strong, perfect, and flawed” among all the superheroes portrayed in blockbuster movies. The alien in MAGDALENE strives to be a more representative character.
What exactly makes this character an alien? There’s the obvious track reference on “fallen alien:” “I’m searching for a light to take me home and guide me out / “I never thought you would be the one to tie me down.” The music video for “home with you” adds to this. Characters in this video are dressed in alternative, shiny outfits with generous applications of glitter and eye paint. Most importantly, the distorted vocals and warbled production in tracks like “home with you” and at the end of “mary magdalene” further bring the character to life.
By creating this alien, FKA is able to step outside the boundaries that a human character would present. Loneliness is a theme central to this project. FKA recognizes that feeling lonely is an unfamiliar “alien” state of mind. An alien character represents the anxiety that comes with loneliness much better than a singular personal experience. Nowhere is this presented better than in “mirrored heart,” where she sings, “and for all the lovers with a mirrored heart / they just remind me that I’m without you.” This juxtaposition of the whole against the individual is powerful.
The alien FKA twigs presents in MAGDALENE essentially represents the collective consciousness of all the lonely people in the world. By sharing the anxiety, the alien hopes to numb it.
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