Tove Lo returns with a living album of love, sex, loss, and self-discovery.
Since her debut album “Queen Of The Clouds” in 2014, Tove Lo has been making space in the music industry for the true female experience – never shying away from divulging her own experiences with sex, drugs, and heartbreak to tell the story. Classic songs from her discography such as “Talking Body,” “Habits (Stay High),” and “disco tits” proved to the world that this Swedish grunge-pop artist could light up a dance floor. Now, “Dirt Femme” explores a new story.
Fueled by Tove Lo’s own journey with her femininity, this album brings to light the usual taboo thoughts and feelings that come with womanhood. “True Romance,” my personal favorite, lives within that fine line between love and obsession. Explosive vocals showcase her powerful emotions and her range as a singer. The simple background synths are borderline hypnotic and the lyrics completely submerge the listener in the story of a feminine urge to sacrifice everything for love. The track is a departure from Tove Lo’s popular club sound but shows off the most creative lyricism of the album.
Tracks “Suburbia” and “Grapefruit” blatantly critique expectations of femininity and, while their messages are important, they lack depth. The immense pressure to have children that “Suburbia” attempts to describe is portrayed without weight.
The crushing beauty standards and painful eating disorders discussed in “Grapefruit” come off as meek complaints rather than resounding disagreements. The peppy instrumentals clash with lyrics that, while certainly clear and direct, lack any resolution. They are no doubt personal testaments to these issues but ultimately feel underdeveloped. If you’re going to talk about it, shout about it.
For those wanting Tove Lo’s signature sexy-cyber-dance sound, this artist is still delivering. Tracks “2 Die 4,” “Call on Me (with SG Lewis),” and “Pineapple Slice (with SG Lewis)” keep it playful lyrically while the underlying instrumentals and beat drops make them the perfect club soundtrack. These songs embrace the fun, sexual, and empowering sides of femininity and Tove Lo doesn’t apologize for it.
Tracks “Cute & Cruel (feat. First Aid Kit)” and “Attention Whore (feat. Channel Tres)” explore new combinations of vocals and rhythms that set them apart from other up-beat songs on the album. The featured artists are successful additions to the sound rather than distractions, something many features fail to do.
“How Long” is unimpressive despite its spot on the “Euphoria” soundtrack and its place as the album’s closer. Previous two tracks “I’m to Blame” and “Kick In The Head” also disappoint in their lack of lyrical energy, leaving a confusing and open-ended album closing. Maybe it’s symbolic in some hidden way? Whatever the case, the album loses its narrative in unoriginal sound.
“Dirt Femme” is a disorienting whirlwind, but if that’s not a reflection of the female experience, what is? The album deserves at least one listen and some tracks, such as “True Romance” and “Call on Me” have earned their places at the top of Tove Lo’s discography. However, the inconsistent lyrical personality and uncomfortable pacing drag the album down as a whole. Tove Lo expressed herself in new, bold ways but her inability to commit to that sound sabotaged most of these tracks.