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  • EP2 is technically the first release Tahliah Barnett issued as FKA Twigs -- she changed it from her nickname Twigs after learning of another artist using that moniker -- but it's still another set of haunting, evocative songs. Where much of EP1 was spare and whispery, its successor is downright lush. Acclaimed producer Arca (who also collaborated with Kanye West on Yeezus) helps Barnett build on the budding fullness of EP1 songs like "Breathe," and the the richer sonics enhance EP2's air of mystery. FKA Twigs' kinship with trip-hop is alive and well -- echoes of Tricky, Portishead, and Massive Attack, as well as more contemporary acts like Burial and the xx, resonate through all of these songs -- but Barnett's version is more nimble and abstract. Her beats are as decorative and expressive as they are rhythmic, punctuating and embellishing EP2's emotional complexity. Unlike so many of the artists who followed in the footsteps of trip-hop's pioneers and smoothed the style into attractive surfaces, FKA Twigs leaves it shattered and frayed. Even on "Ultraviolet," the closest EP2 comes to being merely pretty, a woozy sub-bass cuts through the track's delicacy with an ominous depth. If Barnett's music is denser than it was before, her lyrics are even more revealing, and the EP is at its most riveting when she lays her emotions bare. The aching that suffuses her music comes to the fore on "Papi Pacify," which teeters between pleading and demanding, and "Water Me," a strikingly sad, and beautiful, tangle of rejection and self-reliance. Barnett still only has a handful of songs to her name, yet the way she brings together vast spaces and dense sounds, as well as love and pain, makes it a stunning body of work. ~ Heather Phares
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