‘Magdalene’ builds beauty with upset


Illustration by Kathleen Hetherington.

FKA Twigs’ “Magdalene” is a fine-tuned look into the full embodiment of one’s sadness and the beautiful growth that can come from it. 

It has been four years since FKA Twigs released her fiery alternative dance EP “M3LL155X” and five years since her critically acclaimed debut album “LP1.” With a heavily publicized relationship with Robert Pattinson and surgery to remove uterine fibroid tumors since then, Twigs has undeniably been through a lot. “Magdalene” is a beautifully crafted breakup album that is another example of the age-old idea of great art blossoming from immense pain. 

“Thousand Eyes” introduces the listener to the unsettling, and at times disturbing, world of “Magdalene.” This eerily bare track has Twigs saying that if she leaves this relationship, she will wake a thousand eyes, representing the rumors and online chatter that comes with celebrity breakups. 

Leading up to the release of “Magdalene,” Twigs dropped “Cellophane,” a piano ballad where she admits the feelings of loss and despair. “Cellophane” expresses the feelings of inadequacy against drawn-out piano chords in an incredibly real and honest way. The accompanying video adds a different level to the song with Twigs delivering a somber pole dance as a metaphor for herself being completely vulnerable. 

The importance of visuals with Twigs’ music has been present since she dropped her first EP, “EP1.” Truly no other artist has taken risks or been as interesting with their visuals this decade. Twigs continues that with this era as each full-length video has been stellar and even the Spotify clips feel rectifying. 

“Home With You” builds on Twigs’ reputation as a forward-thinking visual artist with a video featuring one eye symbolism as well as references to her surgery. This twisted ballad has Twigs belting that if she knew that her ex was lonely she would have been there for him. The lyrical references to pain and her tumors that she said were the sizes of apples and kiwis bring a different level of hurt to this already heartfelt ballad. 

Themes of being an outsider are also present on “Magdalene,” specifically on the track “Fallen Alien.” The lyrics talk about how Twigs never expected to be tied down by this specific person, likely in reference to tabloids that presented her as being a strange match. “Fallen Alien” is incredibly catchy but it is also a timeline through a relationship’s demise. 

An obvious recurring theme on “Magdalene” is the story of Mary Magdalene, who Twigs has described as an inspiration with all that Twigs has gone through. Twigs references Magdalene as a healer, friend and confidante in the track “Mary Magdalene.” The different historical interpretations and misconceptions of Mary Magdalene have served as an obvious muse for Twigs with rumors surrounding her relationships and her mysterious qualities. 

Twigs delivers a full presentation of numbness on “Sad Day,” which Twigs has described as neurotic and monotonous. The slow, whispery vocals set against the fast-paced beat make for “Sad Day” to feel truly depressing. There is something about “Sad Day” that sounds like a perfect image of what it is like to walk a mile through the rain. 

All of the tracks on “Magdalene” feel like a different emotion or experience that comes from one’s trauma. “Holy Terrain” featuring Future is about being able to stand up and personal growth. “Daybed” has Twigs singing about masturbating to pass time and “Mirrored Heart” is an emotional ballad about being unable to think about anyone else.

Unlike other breakup records, “Magdalene” is so much more as it explores each tiny ache and itch in a different, original fashion. FKA Twigs began this decade as a forward-thinking artist with an independent, emotionally intelligent vision, and it looks like she is ending this decade the exact same. “Magdalene” is Twigs at her most vulnerable, mature and focused.