Before listening to this album I never really listened to Tove Lo’s music. Of course I heard “Habits” and “Talking Body”, because how could you not, they were all over the radio. And to be honest, I really like the songs- though they were very, for lack of a better word, uncensored- they had a very rhythmic beat and catchy lyrics. As I was looking for an album to review for this blog post, I sort of stumbled upon Tove Lo’s newest album Lady Wood.
Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson, more famously known as Tove Lo, is a 29 year old Swedish pop singer and songwriter. Her best known songs are “Habits”- which topped as number 3 in the billboard Hot 100 chart- and “Talking Body”- which topped at number 12. Lady Wood is Tove Lo’s fourth album, including her EP and the soundtrack of Allegiant (the second Divergent movie). Lady Wood was released on October 28, 2016 and it features 12 songs-Fairy Dust, Influence, Lady Wood, True Disaster, Cool Girl, Vibes, Fire Fade, Don’t Talk About It, Imaginary Friend, Keep It Simple, Flashes, WTF Love Is-making the album about 40 minutes long.
The title of the album is pretty straight forward and it means exactly what you think it means, which is kind of interesting because it’s blatantness is artistic in its own way. In an interview with 92.3 AMP Radio Tove Lo explained exactly what the title Lady Wood means and why she chose it. She said that Lady Wood, “Has a lot of different meanings, but the most literal one stands for, me at least, like a female hard on. There isn’t really a word for that. I think Lady Wood is kinda the perfect way to say that and it’s kinda also like when you’re telling someone to be brave and have some courage you say ‘grow some balls’… It also stands for doing something that might scare you and excite you at the same time”. This album also has two short films attached to it. The first, Fairy Dust, has already been released and it corresponds to the first chapter of the album. She made the film for shock value and I can safely say that a lot of people will be shocked when they watch it. However, part 2-Fire Fade- is still on its way.
The album only had two featured artist, besides Tove Lo herself. Wiz Khalifa was featured in the second track, Influence, and Joe Janiak was featured in the sixth track, Vibes. It was pretty interesting to me that they were both featured in Chapter 1 (Fairy Dust), which “chronicles the initial hit of adrenaline or attraction what happens when those sparks start to cool,” leaving Tove Lo to sing all of Chapter 2 (Fire Fade), which was about “what happens when those sparks start to cool” by herself. I felt that each artist complimented the song they were featured in pretty well. Though they did not really have any major parts in the song, it was mainly Tove Lo’s own voice, their presence was noticed.
Her refusal to be censored both turns people away and entices people to listen to her music. She doesn’t let her label, critics, listeners, or what she feels is the conservative nature of American society to censor what she has to say. This is clearly seen in her songs, which she writes herself, because while they are song over fun EDM beats they are deeply personal. In the album she talks about issues with stardom, drug addiction, and wanting to feel free. Lady Wood is kind of a response to the critics who feel like she should get back into the lines and be “proper”. The similarities between this album and her last make a statement. That statement is basically a middle finger to the critics, it’s like she’s expressing ‘I am not doing anything wrong, so I’m not going to stop and I’m not going to change myself to fit into the mold of what you think is good and proper’.
According Tove Lo the album is supposed to be empowering and I actually do see what she means by this as I listened to the album. It’s about embracing your wild side and partying and most importantly not feeling ashamed. Tove Lo does not try to hide her sexuality, in fact she embraces it in her lyrics when she writes about it. The most well-known example of her raunchy lyrics actually don’t come from this album, it comes from her most popular song Habits where she sings, “I eat my dinner in my bathtub/Then I go to sex clubs/Watching freaky people gettin’ it on/It doesn’t make me nervous/If anything I’m restless/Yeah, I’ve been around and I’ve seen it all”. In an interview with 92.3 AMP Radio she talks about the fact that there are double standards for men and women when it comes to sex, which is ridiculous. She also seemed baffled that critics would tell her to tone it down when her male musical counterparts are talking about the same exact things. Many people might not want to acknowledge it, but her views are very feminist and progressive. Generally society, pushes the idea that women shouldn’t be openly sexual and they should hide their desire- or else they will be labeled as whores. In this album instead of toning it down Tove Lo just keeps doing what she’s doing with lyrics like; “Hiding in the crowd; we’re making love without a sound” (Influence), “You got body and my knees—they go weak/Lie awake and read your sex, I can’t sleep”(Keep It Simple), and “Yeah, you give me wood/Give me lady wood/Dirty on the inside, damaged goods with nothing but pride” (Lady Wood).
My favorite song on the album was Flashes. The first time I listened to flashes I immediately loved it because I just loved how it sounded. Tove Lo’s voice and the music just melted together in a way that I found memorable and fun. I just couldn’t stop bobbing my head in tune to the music and then I looked up the lyrics and I realized that the lyrics are kind of sad, but it doesn’t take away from the fun of the song. When listening to Tove Lo, you have to expect lyrics that are personal and raw even if the music is super rhythmic and fun. The song is about her life in the spotlight and having to come to terms with the fact that being in the spotlight means that everyone sees your moments and have something to say about you as a person, sometimes these people can be people who you care about. The lyrics are very conversational, in the sense that is sounds like she is actually speaking to someone in real-time, this just highlights how personal her lyrics are.
On of my favorite things about the album is how smoothly the songs transitioned. I never really cared about how songs on albums transition from one to the next until I heard how smooth the transition was on this album. It was almost like listening to one song, except each song has its own distinct elements. Most of the songs just picked up right where the other left off which was really interesting. When I was listening to the album I didn’t even realize that Lady Wood had ended and True Disaster started until I heard the different lyrics. I think that to really appreciate the album you have to listen to it in its entirety to catch those little things.
Overall, I think that this album was definitely a win for Tove Lo. I especially liked that she ended it WTF Love Is, because it doesn’t really feel like an ending- it’s like the party is still going strong with the really rhythmic dance music. I kind of stumbled upon this album while I was looking for albums to review and I am glad that I did. The album was fun to listen to because it has a lot of cool beats and catchy lyrics. So while it’s not my favorite album I would recommend giving it a listen if you ever just want to dance around the house in socks.