This is a striking album in pretty much every possible sense. From the enjoyably literal title, to the bold, crisp artwork and on to the equally well defined production of these ten remarkable songs, ‘LP1′ is a record everybody should hear at least once. My hype allergy had kicked in a little after all of the social media whooping around its release and I was ready to be underwhelmed. As is so often the case with these things, sitting back waiting to be unimpressed makes the blow all the more potent when it lands. The quite monumental bass on some of these songs was what struck me first, and I’m quite the sucker for anything that gives my speakers a bit of a work out, but the strength of the songs was soon transparently clear. Indeed, this album is one of the few releases this year where I put it straight back on as soon as it finished. It’s not something I make a habit of, but I was desperate to bask in these tracks again, partly to listen to the gaps and try and spot what I’d missed first time around.
And what does it sound like? Now you’re asking. There’s a sparse, electronic soul kick at the heart of ‘LP1′, but the way in which the hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments come out of nowhere is an addictive trait. Tahliah Barnett worked with numerous producers across the ten songs, but still manages to present a cohesive and enveloping sound. ‘Video Girl’ has got all the attention for addressing her past career as a backing dancer for pop luminaries, but ‘Lights On’ and ‘Pendulum’ are equally arresting. While it’s possible to trace some of the influences on show here, the overall concoction is eccentrically original and pastiche is not an issue.
An NME review at the time of release compared FKA Twigs’ approach to R’N’B with Grimes’ approach to pop and I can’t think of a better way of putting it right now. For all the sonic wizardry going on around them, at their heart these are all corking tunes. The melodies stick, the lyrics are more than a little memorable and Barnett’s vocals are endearingly varied. Her default near-whisper is still rich and warm but when she plays with the songs, things get really interesting. ‘LP1′ is a very curious beast and one where it’s very hard to predict whether I’ll still be playing it a year or more from now. But, that said, it’s one that is hard – and frankly foolish – to ignore right here, right now. Whatever else may lie ahead in this countdown, FKA Twigs is certainly one of the sounds of 2014.