To FKA twigs’s most dedicated fans, M3LL155X (pronounced “Melissa”), or EP3, came after what felt like months of teasing, song releases, and live performances. To the rest of the world, the 5-track release was a complete surprise, dropping without notice or warning on Aug. 13 paired with a 16-minute short film of self-directed music videos.
Following her first EP releases (EP1, EP2), and a critically acclaimed album in August 2014 (LP1), the world kept a fascinated and curious eye on Tahliah Barnett. Her name filled tabloids and gossip rags digging into her private relationship with Robert Pattinson, while she made waves in the fashion world by appearing in Vogue and showing up at the very exclusive Met Gala.
With the help of Boots, a musician known for his production of Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth album, twigs reportedly finished the EP as early as November 2014, but waited until after her debut album’s tour to release anything officially. Once completed, twigs named the EP “Melissa” as a way to objectify her female energy — perhaps to properly understand it.
“Let me live / I feel in ten breaths, it’s a miracle if we’re still alive”, twigs groans on “Figure 8,” the first verse on M3LL155X. The track, which twigs has been performing on tour since early this year, explains her newfound fascination with vogue dancing. The voguing scene in New York helped her deal with the common feelings of isolation and sadness that come with a grueling, non-stop tour following the release of an album. A representation of eternity in vogue dancing, twigs would practice her figure 8 in the mirrors of hotel rooms.
The light, repetitive percussions are reminiscent of the previously released singles “Water Me” and “Video Girl,” combined with a hushed spoken-word interlude, flashes of explosive sound, and ending with a deep, 8-second groan — twigs letting go of her unraveled touring state, and re-gaining autonomy over herself through vogue.
When asked about the track’s creation on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show, she said: “I was just feeling actually quite sad and feeling a bit lost, because after you release a record you get thrown into this weird world and it’s difficult to keep hold of who you are and what you want to do.”
Similarly to “Figure 8,” “In Time” showcases a new vocal range for twigs, opposite from the quiet, whispering tone from /LP1/. The vaguely ’80s, oriental melody captures the emotional ache preceding a breakup. “In time, your hands will resonate through me, like they did before.“ The track is refreshing, light, and radio-friendly — opposite from everything twigs has ever produced, and a significant change in her melodic style.
“One, two, three / now hold that pose for me”, twigs sings on “Glass & Patron.” The track was originally presented at the 2015 Youtube Music Awards, and picks up where “In Time” left off — buzzing, bells, a driving, fast-paced bass, and singing in a higher vocal register. The track is quick and full of energy, and reminisces on her past as a backup dancer. Between holding poses and “moving alone,” she expresses her fatigue of her day-to-day routine in the track: “I wait all week for a moment’s break away from being told who I am.”
“I’m Your Doll” and “Mothercreep” are similar in production to her first EPs, but evolved in terms of depth and lyrical brilliance. To the unfamiliar, the tracks can be difficult to follow through the layers of sound and vocals, completely opposite from tracks like “Two Weeks”. Once unpacked and understood, the dark tracks become underestimated, powerful anthems, decoding twigs’s sexual and psychological desires.
“Dress me up, I’m your doll. Love me rough, I’m your doll,” twigs sings on the track she wrote when she was 18. She alludes to the sexual objectification of women by comparing them to sex dolls, but is simultaneously admitting the unease and emptiness that occurs with her sexual submission. “I’m here, I’m here, look into my eyes, and tell me that you’re here too.”
M3LL155X is a success, and a sign of things to come. twigs’s music is carefully crafted, riddled with emotional depth and truths about sexuality and relationships. She finds a way to harness her pain and sadness, and birth brilliant creativity. For those who don’t understand the appeal, the heavy melancholy behind her words, or the twitching sounds in her songs, you are missing out on one of the most creative individuals of our time.