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Preview: FKA Twigs

Noah Bonaparte Pais previews the artist coming to Republic Nov. 29



There are things about FKA Twigs that are demonstrably real. She has a real name, Tahliah Barnett. She's currently dating Robert Pattinson. In a recent interview with USA Today, the London-based, 26-year-old singer/songwriter/idol said that "vacuous attention" makes her sick, and that ever since arriving in the U.S. for her first international circuit, she can't get "All About That Bass" out of her head. Yet there are other things about her that couldn't possibly be real: the arthropodal dance moves, the hyper-stylized masks she creates for photos and videos out of nothing but makeup, digital effects and her transfixing, malleable face. Her actual songs — she has released 18, with assembly-line precision (2012's EP1, 2013's EP2 and August's Young Turks debut, LP1) — fall somewhere in between, the sexualized soul of R&B leashed to the animal spirit of a wildling, scored by squirming, queasy production. All the "future of music" hype may be suffocating, but it's the vision that matters, and clearly, Barnett's is binocular. That she's managed to realize it to the extent she has — carefully constructing an enigmatic persona that twists pop diva-dom and avant-garde artistry, peeling back a new layer with each startling video — is why everyone who isn't already talking about her soon will be. Just listening to FKA Twigs is coming at Barnett backwards, like viewing a colorist in black-and-white; you have to watch her do her thing, whether it's ticking her disembodied head like a proportionally exaggerated metronome ("Water Me") or having her gaping mouth groped in a scene ("Papi Pacify") that, finally, justifies Madonna's love. Her best four minutes feature no shock value — just Barnett, live, contorting her body and singing the hell out of her ballad "Hide" amid Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico, while men look on in wonder and kids clatter out an uncertain rhythm on sticks in the corners. It's the surest sign yet that she's here to stay. Boots opens. Tickets $15 in advance, $18 day of show.

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