‘Caprisongs’ is FKA Twigs’s love letter to herself and UK Hip Hop & RnB.
FKA’s new mixtape is a search for self-love, and finds its answer in an emphatic spread of sonic warmth.
Even now on whatever number of relistens I’m on with Caprisongs, FKA’s opening line always puts a smile on my face. “I’m still a mysterious bitch”, she declares. Too fucking right she should.
That line is an intention setter. On a record heavily themed around astrology, celebrating life and reconnecting with the self, Twigs seeks an affirmation of the things she enjoys. Her approach to everything feels to be to rediscover what it means to love, each song telling its own little story of the highs and lows of urban living.
But in declaring herself to still be mysterious, she acknowledges the major sonic shift that her new release takes on; it’s a firm break with the material she’s been known for. The abstract experimentation of her prior discography earned her recognition as perhaps the most supernatural electronica artist around, a 21st century witch who deftly combines wildly evocative music with breathtaking physical performances. I would be remiss to use anything other than superlatives to describe her music.
Caprisongs, however, is not powered by that same need for leftfield expression. It’s looser, more free-flowing, each track divided by the sound of pressing buttons on a tape player. She feels present and open in her words, her spirit in the room with you rather than on stage and untouchable. Reading through the accompanying manifesto on her Instagram announcement post, she declares the record to be a firm, necessary return to herself – it translates through entirely.
“‘Darjeeling’…glows with tender quality, [its] lyrics about life in London evoking late night chats about life in ambient-lit bedrooms and views of the city skyline as dusk falls.”
The warmth that her approach creates is of particular note; indeed, it’s an overtly warm and welcoming record, made all the more inviting with the ease at which it plays. A lack of stand-out, mind-blowing cuts risks leaving you feeling undersold, and yet, Twigs banks on the subtlety of the more emotional tracks to really deliver the goods. Those pianos on ‘Tears In The Club’, ring with such pained, beautiful hurt, and deliver truly the record’s most mesmerising moment. Meanwhile ‘Darjeeling’, the collaboration with Jorja Smith and Unknown T, glows with tender quality, their lyrics about life in London evoking late night chats about life in ambient-lit bedrooms and views of the city skyline as dusk falls.
In moving away the persona-driven artistry of her past, Twigs creates new evocativeness in the record’s human underbelly. The interludes of conversations with friends, the search for understanding in the hope of living a better future, and the jovial commentary on astrology ground it within the modern zeitgeist. Caprisongs finds endless excitement from the ways we dress up our lives in the search for authentic expression.
A celebration of something ‘authentic’ may worry some with how contrived it implies Twigs has become. In being such a shift from the intensity of her past work, some takes have even suggested that the record feels throwaway or rushed. But those assessments couldn’t be further from the truth.
The reason is plain to see in its musical choices. In every minute of Caprisongs, Twigs pays tribute to the richness of UK Hip Hop and RnB. Not only does she bring some of its most exciting talent onboard to join her – Pa Salieu, Shygirl and Rema to highlight a few – she explores every echelon of the scene. The Afrobeat and Caribbean sounds many of its current artists employ come through on multiple occasions, whilst the influence of club culture that has continued to define its placing in the world feels ever-present. Hints of the aggressiveness of Grime and Drill are balanced with the softer hues of Alternative RnB’s ever-growing impact. In truly living up to its mixtape format, nothing feels out of bounds for her.
“…as impossible as she still remains, she feels closer to her audience than ever before.”
As significant as she has been to Britain’s musical image of the last decade, it would be fair to say that Twigs has been somewhat of a deliberate outsider in terms of the style of her music. Attributing it to any particular scene is difficult. But here, she flips that on its head. As much as she has been separate to it, Caprisongs is a love letter declaring its importance to her, and perhaps how much it means to her as she re-establishes a firm sense of self love.
Even though she has broken with her prior form so significantly, FKA Twigs still humbles me on Caprisongs. Her wielding of her body, her emotional expression and her sexual affirmation remain just as remarkable. Her ability as a performer to produce some of the most awe-inspiring blends of music, visuals and theatrics of anyone living today continues to move me, and to have been blessed with this new burst from her at the start of 2022 christens this year with a positive outlook.
But as impossible as she still remains, she feels closer to her audience than ever before. Of the many artists who have put their search for self love to music, Twigs’s is earnest, fun and uncontrived. What makes it all the more better is that, in offering her most easily palatable blend of music to date, she finds new love for herself in her love for the friends and culture that surround her. Caprisongs is a love letter both to herself and to UK Hip Hop and RnB, cherishing the glorious power that music has to ground us.
Find ‘Jealousy’ by FKA Twigs and all my other favourite new music on the Sourhouse MUSICBOX playlist.