Tove Lo’s latest album is conceptual yet repetitive and derivative, reviews Sorcha Hornett
Tove Lo released her first album – Queen of the Clouds – way back in 2014, a staggering 24-track record that managed to keep consistent throughout. She explored the themes of love, sex and pain in a deeply personal way that gained her a vast number of fans across the world. Her sophomore album – Lady Wood – was released two years later was the one that made her a household name – it was adored by fans and critics alike, despite the same themes being explored and the lyrics sounding similar to her first album. Blue Lips is the second phase to Lady Wood; it is meant to be a darker record that would represent the peak – starting with the single entitled ‘LIGHT BEAMS’ – and the downfall – represented by the tracks preceding the single ‘PITCH BLACK’.
Following ‘LIGHT BEAMS’ (more a musical introduction than an actual single) is her lead single from the album: ‘Disco Tits’. There’s a reason why this was chosen as the lead single – it’s infectious, with a feeling of indulgence and reckless abandon that’s about “losing yourself with your newfound love / Naïve, excited, no consequences.” With that she encapsulates the single, and first half of the album. ‘Disco Tits’ is a good, solid pop song, despite it’s wildly repetitive structure, that will make you want to dance. Next is ‘shedontknowbutsheknows’ which is about a woman who a guy is cheating with and how she comments on the feelings of his actual girlfriend. It features catchy hooks and wholly relatable lyrics that make an interesting listen, it’s another catchy pop song that will definitely make you want to sing along.
‘Shivering Gold’ is, unfortunately, one of the songs that falls flat on the album and doesn’t make its mark, it falls short of its full potential and this can also be said of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, which is a nice song, but doesn’t offer much and is extremely repetitive. ‘Stranger’ is a complete rip-off of Taylor Swift’s ‘Style’ and I now cannot listen to it without singing Swift’s song over the top. However, the final song of the ‘LIGHT BEAMS’ phase – ‘Bitches’ – is her saving grace. It is a short but ridiculously edgy pop song, complete with provocative lyrics and is totally unexpected after the relentless succession of disappointments encountered so far on this record.
We now move into the ‘PITCH BLACK’ phase, which also begins with its own musical introduction in the same style as ‘LIGHT BEAMS’. This phase documents the downfall of the relationship and kicks off with ‘Romantics’ which features Daye Jack. It has a massive chorus but one of the worst drops ever, giving us all that build up for nothing – it isn’t anything to write home about. ‘Cycles’ is a complete impersonation of Julia Michaels ‘Issues’ and I cannot listen to ‘Cycles’ now without picturing that song, similar to ‘Stranger’, yet I did like the lyrics as it gave Tove Lo a new vulnerability I hadn’t seen on previous tracks. ‘Struggle’ is another disappointment in the form of a filler track, keeping with the core themes of sex and failed love, with a catchy but highly repetitive chorus.
‘9th of October’ is about the final goodbye in a relationship, where you are so heartbroken but are trying to remember the good things and the lyrics again place Tove Lo in a vulnerable position. She is brutally honest, and it pays off, with this being one of my favourite tracks on the record. ‘Bad Days’ is unfortunately another one of those catchy, repetitive but filler tracks but is followed by ‘Hey You Got Drugs?’, a mid-tempo classic pop song charged with emotion, as she sings about the end of a relationship in an extremely direct and honest way. Her voice sounds incredibly raw and powerful, the melody is infectious and elevates it to a new level – leaving the album on a high (if you excuse my pun).
I really like the idea of this record being split into two parts of the relationship, yet it is incredibly hit and miss. Singles like ‘Disco tits’, ‘Bitches’ and ‘Hey You Got Drugs?’ are completely underrated and are incredibly infectious pop songs that deserve more attention, but I can see why people aren’t going wild for this album. There are too many filler tracks that are extremely repetitive. Tove Lo has been the queen of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ – yet I think she’s finally become a broken record, and it’s time to mix it up.
Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II) is available to stream now.