Jaw drop like woah: FKA twigs' new EP 'M3LL155X' is out in music video form
FKA twigs is a jane of all trades, equally skilled at producing, recording, dancing, and directing her music and video projects. Her Congregata shows for Red Bull Music Academy in NYC had critics tongue-tying themselves while trying to compliment (and parse) her work; her “Glass & Patron” music video, debuted in March and brought voguing back into mainstream conversation — this time in a way of reference, not ripping off. And now, for her first follow-up to the game-changing LP 1 (how many people now wear septum rings BTW?), twigs dropped not just one, but four music videos strung together for M3LL155X (pronounced Melissa), a sixteen-and-a-half minute eerie, ecstatic exploration of femininity, sex, and identity.
Though tracks “Glass & Patron” and “Figure 8” were released earlier, the three other songs on the EP are brand new. “I’m Your Doll” is a surface-level timid turns super-sinister rework of a song twigs wrote when she was a teen; “In Time” is a ballad cut through with rap interludes; “Mothercreep” was introduced at the beginning of the “Glass & Patron” video but gets a full treatment closing out M3LL155X, and removed of its disorienting birth visuals, is actually the sweetest song on the EP. All of the songs have strong industrial undertones, building off of LP 1 and EP 2‘s electronic soundscapes; the beats here are rougher and harder, while twigs’ voice bends and snaps in a dizzying amount of ways, and that’s before you account for all the filters she applies to it.
For the cover of M3LL155X, FKA twigs enlisted artist Matthew Stone. Playing off the lurid, body-bending art for LP 1, M3LL155X is “simpler,” until you notice its trompe de l’oeil feature. twigs continues using her body as the template for her music’s presentation, an idea taken into fruition in the EP’s videos.
And oh, those visuals. They’re an orgy of textures, ideas, and some reliably incredible dancing. i-D Magazine confirms that the woman at the center of the “Figure 8” segment is Michèle Lamy, the mysterious wife and muse of avant-garde designer Rick Owens. Outfitted with a glowing angler fish hat contraption, Lamy is an apparition channeling mystic women of millennia, and her appearance begins the birth/life/death cycle of womanhood twigs invokes throughout the rest of the video.
Next up is “I’m Your Doll,” a song twigs wrote when she was 18 and which she described to Complex as something that’s evolved from being a submissive song to being a song about submission: “I realized that I’d been brainwashed and preconditioned to write a pop song and write it from that point of view.” She takes that sentiment to heart by “playing” a blow-up sex doll, removed of agency and impregnated by a man whose baby she carries into “In Time.” This time, she’s playing a digital courtesan of sorts, connected to her client via video link, and she is both hopeful and frustrated by a lover who can perhaps change into the person she wants and needs them to be, and who can hopefully inspire that change in her as well. Last up is “Mothercreep”/”Glass & Patron,” which takes twigs’ faux-pregnancy to term and showcases not just her, but NYC’s underground ballroom scene’s brightest stars.
The flow between the individual videos, as well as twigs’ progression and involvement in them, evolves organically in the most primal way and sense: Even as she’s plagued by rumors about her personal life, including exclamations of phantom weddings and pregnancies, she absorbs and reworks those frustrations into her art, and the results are stark in their message (“This is what I think about what you say”) and stunning in their transformation. twigs has always made music with very femme-centric cores, but here she’s both twigs and Melissa, the “personal female energy” she nurtures inside her, and the divide and collision between those ideas is brilliant, smart, and also really, really easy to dance to.