Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is CAPRISONGS, the new mixtape from FKA twigs.
“Hey, I made you a mixtape, because when I feel you, I feel me,” FKA twigs says in the first track on CAPRISONGS, voice breathy and soft, “And when I feel me, it feels good.”
Making music to feel good may not sound like a revolutionary ethos for a pop album, but it subverts the very essence of FKA twigs’ previous output. When we last heard from her in 2019, with her sophomore release MAGDALENE, she was creating “pop,” but drenched the genre in the uncanny and grotesque, and drowned it in the pain she was going through at the time. Instead of staying in that darkness, comprised of health challenges and physical and emotional trauma, three years later, twigs has returned with CAPRISONGS: a project that centers joy.
While earlier twigs projects have been nearly featureless, CAPRISONGS is packed with collaborators, including The Weeknd, Daniel Caesar, Pa Salieu and Jorja Smith, among others, with production heavy-hitters like Arca and El Guincho (rising in fame due to his work with fellow Spanish artist Rosalía). Despite the multitude of new voices, twigs’ fingerprints are on every track, and the mixtape is wholly hers.
The first single, The Weeknd-featuring “tears in the club,” is a catchy anthem for healing through dance, with a hypnotizing video featuring cathartic revelry. Another standout, “honda,” also comes early in the record, with FKA twigs leaning into a rap cadence to match fellow British artist Pa Salieu. Later on the mixtape, MAGDALENE-esque “minds of men” is a return to floating falsetto form for twigs. Even with its moments of melancholy, as a whole, the project has a buoyancy that LP1 and MAGDALENE never reached.
Breaking out of literal isolation into a community so rich and textured, CAPRISONGS is a revelation in communal healing. Owing a debt to the voice-memo intimacy of Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales, the mixtape is stitched together by recordings of friends and even fans. In tweets explaining the background of the record, twigs said: “isolating alone [I] would pop my girlfriends on loud speaker and potter around my house listening to them natter on about this and that. [As] our lives got smaller and there was less to talk about [I] found the search for connection and even the most simple conversations incredibly comforting.” She said she wove the recordings through the mixtape “like a narrative of [her] healing.”
CAPRISONGS and Heaux Tales share a confessional and collective sensibility, but the similarities in form stop there; where Sullivan’s project is tight and exacting, CAPRISONGS is a sprawling and sporadic listen. It is twigs’ most accessible and listenable work, but loses focus in the back half and is almost overly consistent in texture. Yet the moniker “mixtape” here leaves room for imperfection and less formality than a more traditional “album,” and CAPRISONG’s flaws feel intentional — it’s not meant to be a concept-driven magnum opus like MAGDALENE; this is a more unfiltered version of twigs’ vulnerability.
At the close is “thank you song,” the first twigs wrote for the mixtape and the only track written before lockdown, according to an interview for Apple Music’s The Zane Lowe Show. Flipping the chronology and ending with this track feels fitting and reflective. Emotional journeys are often cyclical, and returning to the beginning with gratitude shows incredible growth. After it all, twigs repeats: “thank you, thank you / I’m OK.”
Theda Berry is a Brooklyn-based writer and the former Editor of VMP. If she had to be a different kind of berry, she’d pick strawberry.