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“Is she the girl that’s from the video?” FKA Twigs sings: the reference is to her past as a dancer in pop videos such as Jessie J’s “Price Tag”.
The Gloucestershire-born singer, real name Tahliah Barnett, adopts a very different guise on her debut album LP1, reinventing herself as a breathy siren floating through a nocturnal landscape of echoing bass and disembodied electronic tones. The effect is pitched somewhere between Aaliyah’s 1990s R&B and Grimes’s 2010s electropop: Barnett originally went by the Grimes-like mononym Twigs before being forced to change it by another performer of the same name (the “FKA” stands for “formerly known as”).
Yet despite the echoes – James Blake is another – her songs aren’t derivative. With the exception of “Pendulum”, which beneath its moody veneer is a formulaic slow jam, they’re beguiling and atmospheric. “Two Weeks” is grinding, seductive and surprisingly explicit: a direct expression of desire rather than polite flirtation. “Numbers” features Mariah Carey-like high notes in an eerie computerised setting far removed from the luxuriant burbling of the typical Carey song.
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