Tove Lo’s ‘Lady Wood’: Album Review

No one makes debauchery sound sweeter than Tove Lo. The Swedish crooner has made a play for music’s Sad Girl crown, pairing infectious electro-pop melodies with lyrics about desire, drugs and sex too blunt to be swept under the rug. Her 2014 debut, Queen Of The Clouds, produced seismic anthems like “Talking Body” and “Habits (Stay High),” the latter of which got remixed by everyone and their wannabe-DJ cousin. That was only the beginning.

Now, as she serves up her second album Lady Wood (out ), it’s clear that Lo is kicking this entire sweaty romp up about a thousand notches. But her motives here are two-fold: Lady Wood is a cheeky term for a woman getting a hard-on, but it’s also (more importantly) an unabashed declaration of female sexual expression.

The album is split into two chapters – “Fairy Dust” and “Fire Fade.” The first section explores the initial high of a relationship while the latter delves into its flickering aftermath. And with its syrupy, lush production coursing throughout, the LP provides the perfect soundtrack for Lo’s goodie bag of stimulants. Take for instance, the Wiz Khalifa-assisted “Influence,” a glossy electronic slow burner about vices of various forms. Or lead single “Cool Girl” (an ode to the Gone Girl character Amy Dunne), where shimmery sarcasm battles it out with the concept of perfection amid woozy beats. Even the title track aims for dazed club euphoria as the singer coos, “Why why white noise in my head, ego/ Why why judge a babe who dance, alone.”

The comedown is inevitable, though, as we enter the album’s second act. Lo begins to lament feelings left unsaid in the clobbering “Don’t Talk About It” and then spirals in feverish numbers like “Keep It Simple” and “Flashes.” She ends things off with “WTF Is Love,” a bubbling track with an on-the-nose title that leaves her questioning why she was on this emotional rollercoaster in the first place.

Despite the downcast finish, Lady Wood is a triumphant affair more than anything else. Even in its darkest, murkiest moments, the album is a celebration of self and of finding closure. It’s also just really smart pop music, the work of a songwriter coming into her own as an artist and figuring out exactly what she wants the world to hear from her, regardless of whether it may be a little uncomfortable or unladylike. Whatever the hell that even means.

Score: 4/5

Rachel Sonis

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