In her two previous records, the rather prosaically titled EP1 and EP2, the London-based singer and dancer Tahliah Barnett has more than hinted at the potential to release a monster debut album under her moniker of FKA Twigs. In LP1 the promise is signed, sealed and delivered. Here comes one of those artists brimming with such confidence and verve that you wonder how so one so young can be blessed with such talent.
On the surface the album is a mix of trip hop, alternative R&B and sensual balladry. Yet FKA Twigs is one of those boundary spanners who nudges music forward with an extraordinary voice and conquers up a moody down-tempo ambience that reeks of atmosphere. The structure of the songs work perfectly. They are driven by her melodious voice but behind them are fractured beats, throbbing distorted baselines and trippy drum textures, At times it is so delicate that on songs like the gorgeous "Kicks" that you feel it may break. But there is real toughness here not least in the brilliant "Two Weeks" an explicit foray into the world of steamy passions as she breathes "Smoke on your skin to get those pretty eyes rolling/My thighs are apart for when you're ready to breathe in/Suck me up, I'm healing with all the s**t you're dealing". This is sheer slowed down power mined from that rich vein to which Massive Attack once held the rights. Intriguingly there is also a hint of Kate Bush thrown in for good measure.
The good news is it gets better and better. The mid point of the album has a brilliant dual punch. First up is "Pendulum" where you sense she has locked into one song all those elements that James Blake has been striving for two albums to achieve. The vocals are intoxicating and behind them are weird sonics that dart and weave through the song. Next up "Video Girl" is ultra classic R&B a sort of Portishead meets The Weeknd charting Twigs' former unsatisfactory employment as a backing dancer in the video for Jessie J's `Price Tag'. Finally the glitchy beats and rubbery synths underpinning the angelic and almost classical vocals of "Closer" is worth the price of entry into this wonderful album
Tahliah Barnett is often compared with the emerging American artist Banks whose own debut album "Goddess" arrives on these shore next month. Despite Banks general excellence in this reviewers humble approximation FKA Twigs is the super-heavyweight amongst the two artists. LP1 is that rarity an album that is undeniably sexy, yet full of music that is challenging , thoughtful and most of all completely seductive. Get down to William Hill and place a bet on "LP1" for the Mercury Prize although with quality like this the odds will be very low.
Review by Red on Black