FKA twigs / Papi Pacify

by: T.M. Brown

September 19, 2013

My brother and I used to make the drive from Orange County to San Francisco a few times every year. We both had friends from high school and college who migrated to the Bay Area for school or work and, when our own schedules matched up well enough and we were sufficiently bored, we’d grab some Mexican food and fly up I-5 in six hours. Typically we’d throw NPR on the stereo — neutral ground for us because our tastes had been tacking in opposite directions for years — and settle in for the agrarian desolation of Bakersfield and Coalinga. Our last trip was at the end of December 2011 and instead of Larry Mantle’s reliable cadence coming through the speakers, my brother put on some Japanese lessons he needed to review ahead of a job interview. He speaks the language; I don’t. I piped James Blake’s Love What Happened Here through my headphones and tried to get some sleep.

FKA twigs wild music

It’s still the strangest fit of rest I’ve ever gotten in a moving vehicle. The production isn’t as sparse as some of Blake’s better music but the horns are voluptuously Seussical when they’re mixed with the tight plucking of synths and cropped voice samples. It’s whimsical without being childish, weird without being pretentious. FKA twigs new single “Papi Pacify” picks up where Blake’s electric dirge left off and creates a devastating song about desperate love, the honesty of which (“Whisper you’re the one to fix it too/Even if you won’t”) makes you think about passion at its lowest.

Twigs will probably remind most listeners of Jessie Ware on Quaaludes and, given their sensual rasps and affinity for booming production, the comparison is not that far off. There is something foreboding about FKA twigs, though, a really delightful gloom that isn’t present on Ware’s excellent but ultimately more mainstream fare. Twigs has made a name for herself on the back of two exceptional singles — “Water Me” is even more doomily bare than “Papi Pacify.” Judging by the excitement ahead of her sophomore EP, produced by Arca (who also did work on Yeezus), which is out today from XL/Young Turks, there is plenty more to come from FKA twigs. I’m hoping there’s a long car ride ahead of me soon.

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