Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II)
IF you love pop songs about nihilistic, drug-fuelled partying and graphically-described sex then Sweden’s Tove Lo is most emphatically your gal. Yet the free-spirited star, who has taken to unleashing her breasts on stage, is far more than a titillation merchant. For one thing, there’s so much raw emotion — frequently desperately sad — that her music thrums with a brittle tension between euphoria and tragedy that is the hallmark of great pop music.
Her third album, Blue Lips, is a two-chapter concept record (about the ‘highs, lows and ultimate demise of a relationship’) and pitched as the second half to last year’s Lady Wood. A collection of soul-baring club pop bangers and ballads, the record is low on stand-out hits. Yet as a body of work it reminds us of Tove Lo’s melodic songwriting nous — she has penned tracks for everyone from Girls Aloud to Lorde, and was mentored by Max Martin.
Lead single Disco Tits has a wonky, tilted groove and Stranger pairs soaring vocals with oozing electric guitars and a pounding disco funk bass that’s Daft Punk meets feminist power ballad. Bitches lopes along with a low-slung, scuzzy bassline, nicely undercutting a deceptively pretty chorus, while 9th Of October is a powerfully pitched track about a love affair in recollection.
There are a thousand pop stars who sing about relationships, sex and partying — but very few who write with brutal honesty about such a desperate, passionate delirium of love, lust and chasing highs.
For that alone, Blue Lips is a gem.