And we’re baaack – and here’s hoping 2022 will be blissful, abundant and joyful for all of us! The start of a new year is a time for intentions and goals for many, but striving for change and stepping forth into pastures new is only tangible by taking stock of the past.
It is fair to say that FKA twigs is making such strides with the release of her mixtape CAPRISONGS. Never one to rush (her second album Magdalene arrived four years after her previous collection, the M3LL155X EP), the arrival of CAPRISONGS only two years after Magdalene is a surprise. But a lot has happened since then and, for twigs, its birth has been far more than an expression of creativity.
It has been almost a year since FKA twigs appeared on Louis Theroux’s Grounded… podcast, making headlines with her revelations of serious relationship abuse by her former partner, actor Shia LaBeouf, who she filed a lawsuit against in December 2020. In the interview, she recounts not being “allowed to look men in the eye”, the psychological pressure of undisclosed quotas for affection, regimentally being awoken by LaBeouf’s accusations between 3am and 7am, and how ringing a women’s helpline was her “massive wake up call”.
“With the collection, she confirms the healing of her past, and steps into reinvigorated pastures”
Announcing the mixtape on her Instagram last week, twigs stated that CAPRISONGS is a result of her “stubborn capricorn ass telling me to work thru my pain by delivering at work” and her “hot mess disastrous heart falling in love all over again… but this time with music and myself”. Upon listening, it is hard to argue with her; it is, in many ways, the most liberated and jubilant she has ever sounded: a feat of rediscovery for an artist that felt they “had hit the end of the road making music” at the start of lockdown.
At its core, CAPRISONGS is a collection about connection, born from a time where both twigs and the pandemic-reeling world were at their most isolated. Inspired by the comfort found in the most simple of conversations, twigs’ penchant for a casual eavesdrop is woven throughout the mixtape in snippets of dialogue, her friends quipping their troubles, reaffirming each other’s power, and shaping a home for love – a fact only reinforced by the bounty of collaborators (including The Weeknd, Jorja Smith, Pa Salieu, and Shygirl).
Sonically, CAPRISONGS playfully dabbles with dub, dancehall and Afrobeats in a way at odds with the often pensive rawness of her previous work, though it does so without sacrificing any of FKA twigs’ own emotional sincerity. With the collection, she confirms the healing of her past, and steps into reinvigorated pastures. As she says herself at the beginning of CAPRISONGS:
“Hey, I made you a mixtape… because when I feel you, I feel me. And it feels good”.
FKA twigs – ‘ride the dragon’
Leading CAPRISONGS, ‘riding the dragon’ is perhaps the track from the collection that is most immediately recognisable as an “FKA twigs song”. Its low bass, spasmodic sampling and meandering melodies chime with expectant ears, as twigs plays with 90s R&B. Its accompanying video again leans into the feeling of fun and community, with twigs and her dancers causing minor inconvenience across London town.
Raveena – ‘Rush’
A co-sign from the likes of Tyler, the Creator is no mean feat, and Raveena’s latest outing is a perfect example of why. Intoxicating and inviting, new single ‘Rush’ is a sticky and sensual turn that leans into the songwriter’s longing for escapism and intensity. Channelling her South Asian heritage, the track incorporates winding Indian rhythms, mixing in a dollop of R&B and a dash of hip-hop.
Shamir – ‘Reproductive’
Given Shamir’s recent releases, ‘Reproductive’ puts a different spin on what we have come to expect from his often experimental offerings. Plucked from his anticipated forthcoming album Heterosexuality, ‘Reproductive’ instead eschews the glitchy goodness of tracks like ‘Cisgender’ for a sound that is altogether less complicated. Wailing guitars tug at the heartstrings through unassuming rock rhythms, allowing Shamir’s vocal to shine in all its effervescent clarity: a lesson learned – never presume to know what comes next.
Crystal Murray – ‘Other Men’ (feat. Le Diouck)
Making waves over in France, Parisian talent Crystal Murray shares new single ‘Other Men’, the latest to be revealed from forthcoming EP Twisted Bases. Teaming up with Le Diouck, the track is a sultry detour through skittish beats, big bass notes and blasé vocal stylings, as Crystal slinkily ruminates on “a toxic love that keeps coming back”.
SZA – ‘I Hate U’
Previewed earlier in 2021 over on SZA’s SoundCloud, buzzy fan favourite ‘I Hate U’ has finally been given its rightly deserved official release. Leaning into plush R&B and rich brushes of synth, the track’s sensuous atmosphere captures the heavy, bittersweet frustration of longing for someone who takes you for granted.