Tove Lo: ‘Queen of the Clouds’ (Album Review)

First of all, can we take a moment and just be grateful for Sweden? Thanks, Sweden. Really. You guys are killing it right now. Keep it up.

Singer-songwriter Tove Lo, widely known for her addictive and still-climbing hit single “Habits (Stay High),” released her anticipated debut album Queen of the Clouds earlier this week. The 12-track, lyrically-driven, electro pop album is as ambitious as it is personal. Tove Lo‘s ability to juxtapose insightful and refreshingly well-written lyrics with moody synthetic instrumentals (I’ve started referring to her style as “Xanax music”), helps to perpetuate the all-too-real narrative of the album: that of young, reckless love and the pieces left behind when it’s over. The album is sectioned off into three parts: The Sex, The Love, and The Pain, with each section containing four songs that reflect their corresponding section.

BUY Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds (Deluxe Edition) on iTunes NOW!

The Sex is the first, and arguably strongest, section of the album. The first two songs, titled “My Gun” and “I Like Em Young,” are both solid pop gems that quickly prepare you for what else Tove has in store, but overall they both leave something to be desired. Although “My Gun” has a catchy hook and utilizes gun-cocking noises (big fan of those), the vocals in this song tip-toe on the line of full-blown, unadulterated baby voice, which I have a hard time stomaching. “I Like Em Young” is a great StairMaster song, with a steady beat and fun lyrics (Hey girl, why you’re judging me? // When your, your guy is turning 53). Unfortunately, it falls short of being anything other than well-manicured fluff. But then, the moment arrives: The Sex really kicks into high gear with “Talkin’ Bodies,” a infectious and lusty, erotic number produced by The Struts that will have you hooked the moment the addictive chorus kicks in. It got to the point where I needed to take a siesta from writing about this song so I could get up and dance to it (The body does what it wants). The volcanically exciting “Timebomb” finishes off the first section by frantically bombarding your ears with a barrage of celestial chords and vocals that seemingly trip over the melody. Reaction to the structure of this song has been very polarized, but trust me, it’s more of a revelation than a misstep.

The second section, The Love, could very easily be renamed “We’ve All Been There.” The first song, “Moments,” encapsulates every feeling I have after a night of drinking tequila. Sung in a lazy, hypnotic tone, Tove Lo reminds us that even though she frequently makes poor choices (amen), she still has days where she can pull it together––but on good days I am charming as fuck. (Hallelujah, sister). Next up is “The Way That I Am,” which is one of the better-constructed songs off the album. It’s a viscerally honest love song with a house-y feel, and it’s enough to make anyone think about the last time they were in love and how hard it is to not be perfect for someone. “Got Love” is a super vibey bop with a smooth pop pulse, although it’s unfortunately inconsequential compared to the other songs in this section. Rounding out The Love is a top shelf jam called “Not On Drugs,” which was also featured on her fantastic debut EP Truth Serum. For the record, every part of me believes our girl Tove was in fact on drugs when she wrote this song. The beat is hypnotic, the hook is irresistible, and the lyrics are way on point. Kudos, TL.

Finally, we approach The Pain, the final section of Queen of the Clouds. The first song featured, “Thousand Miles“, will probably remain underrated as far as mainstream recognition, but it’s easily one of the best songs on the album. It begins slow, kicking off with a subtle beat and lyrics with a lingering sense of urgency: “Too far away to feel you // But I can’t forget your skin // Wonder what you’re up to // What state of mind you’re in,” she sings as the song builds to a crescendo so catchy it’ll make you want to make out with a stranger. Also, I’ll never be able to hear the title “Thousand Miles” and not think about the scene in White Chicks where they’re driving in the convertible. So, basically, this song is a knockout for more reasons than one. Following that, Tove Lo‘s breakout single, “Habit’s (Stay High),” finally makes it’s appearance on the album. I have to say, I was thrilled to find it featured near the end of the album. It’s not my favorite song of hers –– it’s hazy, pounding beat is paired with half-hearted lyrics about eating dinner in a bathtub. Tove Lo has shown us in prior songs that she is capable of so much more. It is, however, a song that has earned her an illustrious amount of recognition, and by featuring it in the last section of her album, it helps maintain the narrative of the album (consistency is so under appreciated) and plays the perfect role of a tasty and familiar dessert after a delicious meal. The lamenting “This Time Around,” and the infinitely enjoyable dance anthem “Run On Love” close out the album and all is right in the world of Tove Lo.

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Overall, Queen of the Clouds is a wonderfully enjoyable record that is totally worth your time. In a world where pop music can be more surface than a counter-top, Tove Lo shines through with her gritty, unrelenting honesty and stellar pop productions, which is incredibly rare to hear on a debut album. It is by no means perfect, but Queen of the Clouds is one of the most refreshing, cohesive, polished, and fully-realized albums I’ve heard this year. Tove Lo has an incredible career in front of her, and with Queen of the Clouds, she has solidified herself as a member of the elite Swedish pop stars we have all come to revere. Bravo!

Written by Jonathan GrazianoWebsite | Twitter | Instagram

BUY Tove Lo’s debut album Queen of the Clouds (Deluxe Edition) on iTunes NOW!

Comments

  1. Anna

    Honestly, I really liked Stay High BECAUSE of those lyrics. With vague lyrics about broken hearts, it wouldn’t have been any different than any other heartbreak song on the market, but the bits about the puking/eating in the bathtub and picking up daddies at the playground was what hooked me. It feels more raw that way, like she didn’t feel the need to obstruct the nitty-gritty, imperfect details. The song was more real with these lyrics, and it matched the theme of the song perfectly; she doesn’t care anymore, trying to distract herself, being just honestly blunt, and I love it.
    Just my two cents 🙂

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