Hey, FKA Twigs Made You A Collaborative FM Hyperpop Mixtape

Despite being her first and only mixtape, the UK pop artist FKA Twigs has delivered by far her most collaborative work to date. Also having the longest runtime of her projects released so far, CAPRISONGS is a nearly 50-minute mixtape jam packed with future medieval (FM) hyperpop music that Twigs made for you — and for you alone.

If not for the four-year release gap between her EP M3LL155X and her second full-length album MAGDALENE (2019), the three years leading up to this latest effort would be considered a hiatus. Twigs prefers to take her time when it comes to making music, and it shows. She’s not one to shy away from calling out fans for being desperate just as she’s been in her not-too-distant past.

On the project’s intro “Ride The Dragon,” Twigs begins with a declaration of sorts — she is a “saggi moon ♐️ pisce venus ♓️ capri sun ♑️” who made you a mixtape with a specific purpose in mind. She explains: “Because when I feel you, I feel me,” making her unreciprocated desperation for — and perhaps even addiction to — another known for the first time. Such a theme is bittersweetly continued in the hyperop ballad “Oh My Love.” This song deals with heartbreak as if it were pleasurably absorbed yet taken for granted. She details a romance with a boy who didn’t admit to feeling the same way due to insecurities. Twigs then lets the listener know that while the boy was partly at fault for projecting his insecurities onto her, as she was desperate for love, she was insecure too.        

“Pamplemousse” is a rhythmically sputtering musical detour through what could be the soundtrack to the Coconut Mall from Mario Kart. Yet again, Twigs’ lyrics recall adolescent female desperation for male attention. She gleefully repeats the mantra: “You know you love it / You love to tell them that you don’t but yeah, you love it.” This one-sided romantic desperation is cleverly mirrored at the end when a fan begs for an unreleased song of Twigs’ — aptly named “Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore?” — to be officially released.

After that, we get the shortest song (26 seconds) and title track — “Caprisongs Interlude.” Because of the robotic vocal manipulation here, it feels like a waking nightmare through a hypertechnological dystopia. Other songs that convey this feeling include “Meta Angel,” “Tears In The Club (featuring The Weeknd),” and “Which Way (featuring Dystopia)” — admittedly ironic. All three do an excellent job of continuing the desperate romance theme while simultaneously adding the novel element of FM hyperpop. Although the first two evoke a romantic dystopia showing its true, emotionally turbulent colors, “Which Way” is effectively masked behind the veil of a romantic utopia. 

Less well-executed songs with this utopian optimism include “Papi Bones (featuring Shygirl),” Jealousy (featuring Rema),” and “Darjeeling (featuring Jorja Smith & Unknown T).” Here, Twigs puts the “FM” in FM hyperpop, meaning “frequency modulation” rather than “future medieval.” As if surfing through multiple radio stations, the first two sound like typical reggaeton, while the latter is a poppy take on drill music. You might commend her for taking such genre-defying risks, but all they do is dilute what could’ve been a sonically cohesive mixtape.

That said, there are still FM hyperpop standouts throughout CAPRISONGS’ 17-track sequence. “Honda (featuring Pa Salieu)” is a distractive banger that outlines Twigs’ heartbreak coping mechanisms — her drugs, new love interests and, of course, her Honda.  “Minds of Men” is another example of FM hyperpop done right. Here, Twigs is largely successful in confronting desperation head on. While a heartbeat rhythmically thumps in the background, she croons with a certain level of insight and profundity: “Lay your troubles down and your heavy crown / Take your troubles off / Imma love you soft / Let’s make amends with minds of men.”  

If she is to stand out among other artists in the hyperpop field, Twigs needs to distinguish herself as an artist who doesn’t occasionally retreat into the relatively safe lane of typical pop music. She already has a lot going for her. On this mixtape alone, Twigs has collaborated with R&B/pop superstars like The Weeknd and Daniel Caesar, but these artistic linkups only do so much. If Twigs continues to be unable to maintain her out-there sound for a project’s full runtime, CAPRISONGS will remain a mixtape of unfulfilled sonic and lyrical potential. Whether she keeps her promise of normalizing desperation to people like herself and her millions of listeners is a story for another day — or rather some years down the road.

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