In case you didn’t know by now, FKA twigs is an artist who does things her own way. That’s certainly the case with her latest audio-visual epic, M3LL155X (pronounced “Melissa”), an expression of her “personal female energy.” Entirely self-directed, the aesthetics are what initially stand out. Fashion muse Michèle Lamy is the first face we see, wearing her go-to heavy jewels, tattooed and dyed fingertips, gold teeth, and even a fluorescent lightbulb on her head. Lamy’s stunning cameo is subsequently followed by twigs as an inflatable sex doll, a solid amount of pregnancy, some hardcore vogueing, and of course, lots of killer fashion. And while viewers would certainly raise an eyebrow at just about all of the visuals in the short film, we should ask ourselves, what does it all mean?
Despite her compelling and unique sense of creativity, FKA twigs is commonly referenced in relation to partner Robert Pattinson instead of credited for her own achievements. Because of said relationship, obsessive fans of the actor’s Twilight saga have showered twigs with racist comments. Meanwhile, her agency over her own sexuality is often challenged, her persona considered “too weird,” and her appearance the main point of discussion in popular media. And that’s not even half of what the average woman deals with on a regular basis. There’s no denying that we live in a world that is rife with misogyny, constantly attempting to undermine female success or artistry, and M3LL155X is twigs’ way of challenging that.
The main theme that twigs presents is a subversion of sexual politics, a common theme in much of her previous work. That’s noticeable right from the start, as the opening track, “Figure 8” powerfully asserts. The singer starts with the message of a refusal to be controlled before foraying into “I’m Your Doll,” a representation of the control that society might expect her to succumb to. In a role of submission and objectification, the song and accompanying video seems to satire the position that women are too often forced into. And while the end result is undeniably disturbing, that might be just the point; why should we be – and why have we been – comfortable with or complicit in the revoking of a woman’s agency, whether literally or symbolically?
Perhaps the most direct harnessing of her “personal female energy” came from “In Time,” the third piece in M3L155X. Out-of-this-world rhythm and meticulous production – the result of collaborating with producer Boots and go-to’s Tic and Cy on the EP – set the perfect background for the track. Meanwhile, twigs sports some seriously divine looks, including a very Craig Green-esque pair of trousers that were actually made by her mother, and an all-denim look by designer Faustine Steinmetz. “You’ve got a goddamn nerve,” twigs says, presumably directed towards the man in the screen, a representative of the media critics who try to stifle her and other women’s achievements. Unleashing insanely sharp dance moves alongside two other women, the artist throws some more empowerment into her work, while the recurring image of pregnancy and birth further refutes the taboos surrounding different aspects of female body politics. Said image ties into the final video for the song “Glass and Patron,” as twigs gives birth again to yet another creative powerhouse. Closing the saga on a high note, she continues her impressive, futuristic sound, this time with a captivating vogue ball that features a host of unbeatable performers. While the song and video are strong regardless, the promotion of a group of people that predominantly defies society’s ubiquitous gender binaries adds yet another layer to twigs’ overall message of the power that lies in embracing originality.
In this day and age, it’s rare to see a truly compelling music video, while it sometimes feels even harder to find impressive, one-of-a-kind music. Yet FKA twigs’ M3L155X is perhaps the most exciting release of the year, declaring her unwavering agency over her own creative vision.
Check out M3LL155X by FKA twigs in full here!