FKA Twigs: Magdalene review – from germ-free adolescent to tainted love

Five years after her debut, this album is a rebirth for a most unpredictable artist

Magdalene
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Artist: FKA Twigs
Genre: Alternative
Label: Young Turks

We have much time for anyone who declares X-Ray Spex’s 1978 album Germfree Adolescents to be their all-time favourite. No matter that FKA Twigs’s music – a beguiling hybrid of electronica, trip-hop, experimental and R&B – shows little resemblance: approach and attitude go a long way.

Arriving five years after her lauded debut, LP1, Magdalene positions the one-time backing dancer as having been put through an emotional wringer. One can only presume, therefore, that many of the songs on the album refer – even obliquely – to her former relationship with the actor Robert Pattinson.

More concrete evidence, however, is that the tenor of the songs also allude to invasive surgery she underwent almost two years ago.

The almost-title track Mary Magdalene may be the signifier for most of what we hear. Over shimmering piano lines and what sounds like a wake-up alarm call, Twigs sings “a woman’s work, a woman’s prerogative, a woman’s time to embrace, she must put herself first” – implying Kate Bush’s influence, which has clear imprints all over here.

The remainder of the album has equal focus, constituting a rebirth of sorts for this most unpredictable of artists.