REVIEW: FKA Twigs’ 'Caprisongs' will make you dance and cry at the same time
Capricorn season has gotten a second wind just five days before its end: Caprisongs is here. FKA Twigs’ first mixtape celebrates the strength of those born under the sign of the sea goat. Though their astrological symbol is the most confounding (I Googled “can goats even swim” to try to figure out why the Mesopotamians may have come up with the sea goat concept, and apparently they’re great swimmers, but my core question remains unanswered!), Capricorns are one of the most hard-working and resilient signs in the zodiac. This spirit is reflected throughout the entirety of Caprisongs in its sonic ambitions as well as in the lyrical themes of growth and rebirth. Though it suffers from a lack of structure, the vast majority of the project shows a new, and very exciting, side to Twigs’ artistry as she moves further in the direction of avant-garde pop music.
There are a great number of songs here that will easily slot themselves into the annals of Twigs’ best moments: “tears in the club,” “meta angel,” “papi bones,” “ride the dragon,” and “honda” in particular stand out as major breakthroughs. Though most tracks don’t reach the heights of “Cellophane” or “Kicks” in their beauty, they show off Twigs’ natural ear for hooks; something we’ve certainly seen in the past, as on M3LL155X, but rarely with such precision. It’s a bit confounding that “tears,” specifically, hasn’t charted in either the US or UK. Yes, The Weeknd has his own album to promote, but this collab is arguably more compelling than anything on Dawn FM (and wouldn’t it be nice to see producer Arca get the wide audience appreciation she deserves?). Any good mixtape can bring some interesting interludes and Caprisongs delivers on this promise as well. The interludes here are some of the most fun moments on the tape. Many of them include recorded conversations between Twigs and friends. The best of these is “track girl interlude,” a conversation about dating in which one friend exclaims to another that “you seem like a crazy girlfriend, though.” Though these spoken word additions take a break from musical experimentation, they give us some insight into the personal growth Twigs has gone through over the past few years of her life, adding texture to the lyrical content of the other tracks. When Twigs confesses that each year she promises to herself that she’s going to “own my shit, and then each year I’m still so shy and quiet” at the beginning of “meta angel,” we understand exactly what emotional place she’s coming from when she sings about wanting “help from a deeper force.”
Because this is a project about confidence, understanding where Twigs is coming from lends more power to the listening experience. In 2021, she spoke out about physical and emotional abuse experienced during a previous relationship, as well as racist abuse directed towards her on social media. These experiences, while specific to Twigs’ personal journey, often play a part in the varied realities of thousands of other young women as well, all struggling to have a voice and find peace. To see Twigs dedicate herself to a project that explores those pieces of ourselves that we can latch onto and find strength in is a wonderful thing, one that many listeners will surely find solace in.
For those looking for a more traditional FKA Twigs experience, one where operatic vocals and sad synths are key, there’s still plenty to discover. The previously mentioned “meta angel” is a soft but soaring track, one with as much build as “Cellophane” and then some. The collaboration with Daniel Caesar, “careless,” and the track “lightbeamers” would both fit in well on MAGDALENE with their introspective themes and angelic choruses.
Caprisongs does, however, falter when it doesn’t see its ideas through. Though not uncommon in mixtape releases, there are multiple tracks that are short and feel more like demos than finished products. That isn’t to say any of these are bad; far from it. Each of these tracks sound amazing, but just don’t quite see themselves through. “pamplemousse” is one of the most fun-sounding tracks on the project, but at a runtime of one minute and thirty-eight seconds it ends faster than a nicotine headrush. Likewise, “which way” paints a compelling lyrical picture (“When I was walking through the London city lights, I met the devil and he smiled at me and said, "You're going the wrong way") but ends before it can take those ideas and mold them into a story. The shortcomings of the tape come not in swings-and-misses, but in leaving the listener wanting more.
With that being the most frustrating thing Caprisongs has to offer, though, the project is ultimately a success. If you’ve been interested in Twigs but aren’t sure where to start, this tape is a great place to start listening. It’s approachable, strange, and heartfelt all in one. It recalls evenings at home alone, candles lit, dancing in your bedroom to your favorite songs. It is simultaneously warm and sharp; able to make you feel dangerous just as easily as it soothes you. This might be a new direction for Twigs, but it is a welcome one.
McKinzie Smith is a former film student from Portland, OR. In her adolescence, she followed Fall Out Boy up and down the West Coast. She now considers herself very cool and normal and only a little bit emo. She now spends most of her time listening to Charli XCX in her kitchen and writing articles about things she likes.