The Best Albums of 2019, #2


2. FKA twigs, Magdalene (Young Turks)

Although it was completely understandable that it took Tahliah Barnett five years to put out a full-length follow-up to 2014’s LP1 – she experienced a crushing end to her long-term relationship and then underwent surgery to have six fibroid tumours removed from her uterus – the music world was definitely a lot worse without FKA twigs around to make things exciting. Second album Magdalene is all about recovering from so much emotional and physical pain, channeling Mary Magdalene – by far the most interesting character in the New Testament – in the process. Magdalene the woman was a lot more than the prostitute described in the gospels, and as Barnett proves on this minimalist masterpiece, she too battles through her own experiences as a misunderstood woman, ultimately revealing a fierce, thoroughly original and transcendent artist. Contrasting with LP1’s restraint, there’s a lot more use of dynamics here (“Fallen Alien” is downright jarring) but she and her producers, ranging from Skrillex to Jack Antonoff, maintain a consistent tone throughout, from the hymnal “Thousand Eyes” to the devastating “Cellophane”. I’ve said it before, but it rings so true: not since Kate Bush has there been an auteur who is so commanding and unique in every aspect of their work. A spectacular singer, and astonishing dancer, and a poetic songwriter, FKA twigs continues to outdo herself on every release, and the journey she takes listeners on Magdelene is intense, at times harrowing, and eventually redemptive.