With artists such as Icona Pop, Robyn, and top DJ’s and producers Swedish House Mafia, Sebastian Ingrosso and Avicii, it’s no surprise that Sweden have produced yet another indie/eletcro-pop singer-songwriter.
Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, better known as her stage name Tove Lo, has made the up-ward crawl from small blogs and songs making appearances in TV shows by a cappella groups, to becoming a phenomenon over a year after her initial release. Now she has her debut album filled with brightly bruised emotions, Z-snapping lines and charming honesty in Queen Of The Clouds. A straight-up real perspective of a relationship, from beginning to end, with all the discreet contradictions and charismatic sneers.
Although Tove Lo released Habits (Stay High) a year and a half a go, it was the remix by the brother duo producers Hippie Sabotage that propelled the misconstrued term ‘over-night success’ into a reality. The artwork to the track shows the singer-songwriter with mascara streaming down her face, on what seems to be taken on a low quality camera, which immediately sets the tone. An emotional heartbreak too hard to even contemplate thinking about, that is trying to be over-shadowed and forgotten with self-medication (“I gotta stay high all the time, to keep you out my mind”). Accompanied with images of Nilsson eating in her bath tub, moving from party to party. Both the original and the remix, lyrically and in their videos, portray confusion and pain (“spend my days locked in a haze”).
The album goes through the three stages of a relationship, starting with “The Sex”. On “Like Em Young” she sniggers at her friends who date guys that are (“turning 53”) declaring she likes them young. On “Talking Body” she tells us how she drinks in the day and stays drunk in to the night, unlike the usual other way round. She sings about her newfound lust and want (“wanna keep you here, cos you drown my tears”). With a catchy chorus and verses filled with quirky sweet nothings that most pop artists would struggle with coming off too crude, Tove Lo delivers them slickly with dead seriousness. Then she passes in to “The Love” reminiscing on “Moments” of her well off happy childhood, and how in contradiction it’s somehow made her want to work even more harder. (“I can get a little drunk, I get in to all the don’ts”) sings Nilsson before delivering the blow-off (“but on good days I am charming as fuck”). Those are the well-phrased statements that stick in your head just as much, or in a lot of cases, more so than her great hooks.
The second single from the album is “Not On Drugs”. She sings about her joy about the love she is finally feeling (“I live in the sky, you come live here too”) and when she gives herself the title “queen of the clouds”. It makes you wonder how no one has ever written about someone (“not on drugs, just in love”) before? After this comes “The Pain”. “Thousand Miles” is the pain, and the want of being back together (“I play it and I rewind, where you are I wanna be”) but he doesn’t feel like before. This leads in to the smash top 10 hit “Habits (Stay High)” where the struggle is causing a strain on her and the pain is too much to think about. “This Time Around” she reminisces on what she’s lost; her once warm, happy dreams have now turned to coldness and loss of feeling. Finally “Love Ballad” and “Crave” conclude the love story gone wrong theme. Of finally acknowledging what once was, how much she has and still does hurt but she doesn’t regret the love she had, (“you are my favorite mistake”).
Electro-pop anthems that are followed by nights of partying and recklessness by pop’s new diva. Rough around the edges persona and blunt honesty, accompanied by her debut album Queen Of The Clouds, Tove Lo creates the bite in the somewhat lately tame pop scene.
For our interview with Tove Lo, click here.
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Review by Jess Lofthouse | @jessslofthouse