In “Papi Pacify”, the video that broke FKA twigs into the scene, the British artist stares into the camera as a man peers his fingers into her gaping mouth. The hook is a moan: “Mmm, papi pacify.” The lyrics are about the tension of desire, but the mise en scene is power. On the cover of her third EP M3LL155X, twigs resonates this gesture, staring at the audience as her own hand merges into her face. Yet again, her gaze is discomfiting and impossible not to return. A glassy-voiced singer diverting melody through diffuse electronic beats, twigs takes the familiar R&B star as her avatar, but her presentation is more complex: her ideas personify beauty and mine power, and exalt sex without the erotic element.
She explores these ideas further on M3LL155X, a five-song EP attended by a 16-minute music film. Instead of obscuring her soft voice with layers of effects or singing in that cartoonish frail and breathy falsetto, twigs prowls confidently over the entire EP. The opening track “Figure 8” roars, jolts, whirrs and clicks like most of LP1, but her voice is richer than ever. As a creative package the EP is impeccable; a high-concept, intellectually curious project that’s reminiscent, accessible and transgressed enough to satisfy the demands of a newly broadened fan base and her existing audience of aesthetes. M3LL155X (pronounced ‘Melissa’) builds on her previous work, exploring ideas of dominance and submission and piercing down almost completely into the self.
What lyrics might not make explicit, her videos and movement certainly do, illuminating the multifarious ways in which a woman understands and owns her body, sexuality and creativity. FKA twigs is interested in mastery and her idea of mastery involves ownership of her craft, but is mindfully tempered with the knowledge that she is one of many voices. I think it is safe to say that the EP takes on the feminist mantra of “the personal is political” as a preliminary theme.
01 Figure 8
02 I’m Your Doll
03 In Time
04 Glass & Patron