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Arts in Review

Tove Lo tries sexy ballads



Swedish singer Tove Lo is known for her raw, brutally honest lyrics, and she stays on-brand throughout her latest album Blue Lips. The breakout pop star’s lyrics openly discuss sex, drugs, love, and heartbreak. Tove Lo’s 2016 release Lady Wood explored female sexuality, and broke with the expectation of female sexual repression. Released in November of 2017, Blue Lips continues the narrative and common themes explored in Lady Wood.

Despite the continuing theme, Blue Lips boasts more polished production than the dance beats of its predecessor. The most notable difference is that Blue Lips emphasizes Tove Lo’s first attempt at ballads. The ballads give the album a calmer and more sophisticated tone, but with still very primal lyrics. Though the ballads were successfully integrated into Tove Lo’s pop aesthetic, the lack of tonal variation between them makes it hard to differentiate from one another. This muddles the album a bit, though it does add a certain flow when listening from beginning to end.

A break from the EDM-influenced pop/rock of her two previous albums, Blue Lips explores a more alternative sound. The softer melody shows off the singer’s vocal abilities and puts the focus on the lyrics. The steady, pulsing beat from the drums and synthesizers gives the songs dark sensual tones that underlay the provocative lyrics, amplifying the sexuality of the album.

The album is strategically organized with a few slightly upbeat songs sprinkled among the slower, more heartfelt production. The album starts off with single “Disco Tits,” which sticks to more conventional electronic production than the rest of the album. “Disco Tits” is reminiscent of Tove Lo’s previous hit singles “Habits,” “Talking Body,” and “Cool Girl,” and bridges the gap between her new ballads. Also included in the latest album is the song “Bitches,” which not-too-subtly throws shade at all-girl band Fifth Harmony with the repeated line “dripping in harmony like fifth.” Overall, the lyrics on Blue Lips express a wide range of emotions (though always in keeping with the sexual theme of the album).

Though well known for her vivid lyrics and synth pop hits, this album shows Tove Lo’s openness to incorporate new genres into her sound. While Lady Wood was a full-course meal of songs to dance to, Blue Lips is a smooth dessert for the senses.

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