They call her “the saddest girl in Sweden.” Her brand of unabashedly personal dark-alt-pop is both refreshing and recognizable. Her songwriting talent has garnered hits such as “Habits” and “Talking Body.” Her personality electrifies on stage and in studio, the fresh take on relationships injecting an honest and evocative sound into the world of pop music.
Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, known as Tove Lo, hails from Stockholm and has been passionate about love and music her entire life. She was a songwriter before singer, penning hits such as Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” while working independently on the side. She released a critically praised EP, Truth Serum, including global smash “Habits (Stay High)” in March 2014. Her breakthrough debut album, Queen of the Clouds, was released September 24, 2014 and revolved around the three stages of a relationship according to Tove—The Sex, The Love, and The Pain. The effort was dark, deeply personal, and bursting with hook-driven pop tracks that led to newfound fame and notoriety.
Tove dropped the single “Cool Girl” in August, fellow artist Lorde remarking that she was “casually about to drop the pop song of the summer.” It initiated the album hype that lasted until the release of her sophomore effort, Lady Wood, on October 28. The album was a critical success and appeared on the Billboard 200. Much like her debut, Lady Wood is split into two parts—“Fairy Dust,” which encapsulates the euphoric feelings of an experience, and “Fire Fade,” which examines the succeeding sense of clarity. The short film “Fairy Dust” was released on YouTube Halloween night. The effort, starring Tove, is visually stunning and creatively articulate—as honest and provocative as the album it pairs with. Tove recently announced that Lady Wood is half of an ambitious double album that will consist of four films.
The sonically mesmerizing “True Disaster” is an undeniable bop. The track is as inventive as it is catchy; the musical aesthetic crashes over you like a wave and drowns you with its layered beats. Tove sings “Keep playing my heartstrings faster and faster/You can be just what I want, my true disaster,” giving in to the attraction of a newfound relationship. “Keep it Simple” is a sultry synth standout that opens with evocative lyrics: “I’ve been deep down in the dirt for some time/Not a clear sound from my heart or my mind.” It then descends into a heavy, totally danceable post-chorus synth run that becomes the hallmark of the track. Other great tracks stand out, such as the thumping Wiz Khalifa collaboration “Influence,” and the beat-driven, bass-soaked “Flashes.”
What makes Lady Wood remarkable is not just its standouts, but its strength as a cohesive effort. The incredible Queen of the Clouds possessed this same sense of a unified singular sound. Whereas the debut was characterized by the explosions of emotion that come with a passionate relationship, Tove’s latest is a slow-burn take on the rushes of life.
Tove Lo’s latest proves to be a successful blend of minimalist alt-pop that comes alive in its artistic ideas and masterful melodic execution. Her spectacular songwriting skills shine through her wildly personal yet relatable lyrics and the sleek, synth-pulsing production. A listen of Lady Wood will give you a sonically stunning glimpse into the world of one of today’s best artists.