Tove Lo likely to stay high on the charts with debut LP



Madeline McCarthy

Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson dreamed of having an indie band career. She never could have dreamed of becoming a “pop girl,” especially one who would rank number four on “the Hot 100.” Better known as Tove Lo, this Swedish pop singer has broken into the American music mainstream, and if her debut album “Queen of the Clouds” is any indication, she is here to stay.

Tove Lo gained attention for her 2013 single “Habits,” and later mainstream success with a remix of the track by hip hop producers Hippie Sabotage, titled “Stay High.” Her debut album, “Queen of the Clouds,” was released on Sept. 30 in the U.S. as well as parts of Europe, Asia and Oceania through Island Records. Tove Lo has also written songs for a number of artists including Icona Pop, Girls Aloud and Cher Lloyd.

Her debut album contains 19 songs and is self-divided into three parts, each describing a phase of a relationship: The Sex, The Love and The Pain. After a general listen, the album can definitely be described as emotional and big, but it still has that quirky pop feeling. 

It is a mix of organic and electronic beats, and could almost be described as messy. Somehow it all comes together anyway. I don’t normally listen to the lyrics of songs, but all of her self-written songs are just too raw and hones to ignore. Even if there are songs I can’t relate to, I can still feel and respect the emotion she puts into her personal stories.

Each section of the album is lead with a short verbal blurb about the connection between the three, the progression of the relationship she has. Within The Sex, the first song you hear in the album is the upbeat-sounding “My Gun.” There is a somewhat foot-tapping beat to it that makes you feel like you are preparing for something big. It is fun and happy, as it should be, and describes changing for the better while in a relationship, as demonstrated by lines such as, “you were who you prefer because of me.” 

Complete with gun sound effects, this song is a dance-y hit. The second song that should be highlighted in this section is “Like ‘Em Young.” This embodies Tove Lo’s more playful and joking side, but still contains some form of reality. As a very happy and fast-paced song, “Does Your Mama Know” from the hit play “Mamma Mia” comes to mind as a good parallel. 

Tove Lo’s next section, The Love, is a bit more romantic and deep, offering conversation about serious topics like drugs. In her Rolling Stone interview, Tove Lo stated that she was always drawn to “the self-destructive kind of way” of life. There was always something beautiful about it to her. We see that in the song “Not on Drugs.” She compares love to drugs, and claims she likes to do so because that’s “what everyone’s always chasing, the rush.” This is not to say that she condones drug use, but simply that at the moment, she is just writing about what she knows and is used to. In this song we also get the name of the album mentioned.

Lastly, The Pain is the most emotional and slow part of the album, finishing on a sad and heartbroken moment. It is in this section that the song that really launched her, “Habits (Stay High),” is located. 

She has a lot of raw emotion and feeling to put into the song, and again she discusses what she knows about drug use. It is a personal song, that I think really shows off Tove Lo’s amazing vocal power. All of her songs are very well done in terms of performance value, but “Habits (Stay High)” is probably one of the best in the album.

Overall, this album feels very emotional and raw, but still pop. The lyrics are real and deep, but the tempo and beats allow for fun and care-free dancing. I can find myself equally at ease listening to this album after a hard emotional struggle, or as I get ready to have a fun day.