FKA twigs - MAGDALENE
Set against the backdrop of an emotional rollercoaster year. In 2017 the one born Tahliah Barnett split from fiancé Robert Pattinson, and later that year the singer underwent surgery to remove tumours from her uterus. Barnett channels these traumas to emerge, bruised yet defiant, with her second studio LP MAGDALENE.
The whirlwind of the past couple of years manifests itself in MAGDALENE's lyrics. Unsurprisingly there are moments of pain here - ‘Would you make a wish on my love?’ Barnett sings on ‘sad day’ while on ‘day bed’ she mourns that ‘vacant are my nightmares, rest becomes my nowhere’. However, there are also points where twigs looks to draw strength from her experiences. The album’s almost-title-track ‘mary magdalene’, for instance, is a fine instance of musical self-care (‘a woman’s time to embrace, she must put herself first’).
Lafawndah - Ancestor Boy
Anyone who has heard Lafawndah’s previous releases - either her 2016 Warp EP Tan or 2018’s collaborative release with Midori Takada - will know that she is one of the most unique newcomers we’ve seen in years. However, the Egyptian-Iranian artist has outdone even our high expectations on her debut full-length Ancestor Boy. Released via Lafawndah’s own Concordia imprint, this is a record that both reinvigorates and reinvents experimental pop music while also breaking down stylistic, regional and cultural barriers.
Lafawndah’s poised, charismatic voice is a commanding presence throughout Ancestor Boy. It also takes on different qualities depending on how it is framed. On futuro R&B jams like ‘Daddy’ and ‘Joseph’ the singer sounds not unlike Kelela, but there are other moments on Ancestor Boy where her vocals steer closer to Fever Ray. Lafawndah is also unafraid to push her voice - the yips, screams, shouts and other vocalisations that pepper the record are reminiscent of Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzi Bougatsos.
Swarvy - SUNNY DAYS BLUE
Swarvy’s Sunny Days Blue EP is a gorgeous collection of smoky, jazz-tinged ballads and beats from the Philadelphia-based musician. While an air of hazy wistfulness is maintained throughout these tracks, stylistically the record shifts subtly as it winds its way forward. Cuts such as ‘COOL’ and ‘NO COMPUTE’ are beautifully low-lit pieces of bedroom soul, the vibe pitched somewhere between Archy Marshall’s A New Place 2 Drown and BADBADNOTGOOD in ‘Time Moves Slow’ mode. On the beat-free numbers the lightness of Swarvy’s music allows his textures to drift off into the atmosphere - there is an impressionistic, almost new-age-esque quality about the tinkling ambiences of ‘LEMONGRASS’ and ‘GiNGER’ which owes something to Laraaji. The soulful sighs of ‘NEW MOON’ and ‘BONES’ occupy a middle-ground between these two sounds, further solidifying the aesthetic of the EP.