Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Album Review: "Queen Of The Clouds" by Tove Lo


"I have my moments, I have my moments"

It finally happened. The debut album by the self-appointed #Queen Of The Clouds has released her debut album today and whatever you do, don't take this next statement lightly: THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST ALBUMS OF THE CENTURY! Now that we've taken care of semantics, let's break down why Tove Lo is essentially pop's savior of 2014.

The ingenious singer-songwriter that is Tove Lo first popped up at the tail end of 2012 with the misleadingly titled "Love Ballad", a majestic track telling of an all-consuming love that is worth dying for. Clearly, Tove wasn't fucking around. After a little digging around, I discovered Tove had a lot more going on than just love songs. Joining forces with fellow Swede and legendary hit maker Max Martin as well as the writers of all things amazing Xenomania, Tove Lo had a hand in writing this, this, along with this, and most importantly THIS! Therefore, Tove became one of the first to be deemed The Next Big Thing on NSOT Pop and the prophecy has been fulfilled.

"Habits", you know that little song currently sitting at #4 on iTunes and breaking into the Billboard charts? that one?, well that was released last year and signaled Tove's entrance as a true popstar ready to take over the world. I've said it many times before but that opening line is the best from recent memory. Since then, Tove's been on an upward trend and this album is a culmination of all that.

Broken into three parts with spoken interludes in between (GENIUS), we start our journey in the sky with "The Sex." It's pretty clear Tove Lo's "been around and seen it all." With songs like "My Gun" and "Like Em Young," we get Tove shifting from cheeky to desperate as she recounts her sexperiences. The best parts of The Sex section comes when Tove gets scandalous with retorts like "Girl why you looking at me, when your man's turning 53" or like "If you love me right, we fuck for L-I-I-IFE" in "Talking Body". Her ability to honestly tell stories and feelings certainly puts Tove leagues above other singers who aren't nearly as involved in the songwriting process as The Queen Of The Clouds.

Before moving on to "The Love," Tove decides to pull a classic Swedish move and throw us possibly the best song of the year: "Timebomb." Though not as tongue-in-cheek as most of the other Sex songs, Timebomb doesn't need to be. Timebomb just needs to be majestic, epic, explosive, just like a Timebomb. Starting off with a twinkly piano while Tove basically talks her lyrics shows just what kind of ingenuity and novelty Tove brings to the table. "The worst thing that could happen could be the best thing ever" is a REALLY good lyric right?!?! Then the chorus comes in with no warning and you're left standing there in awe of what you just heard. It fills every criteria for Song Of The Year: unexpected, novel, and the essence of what pop should be.

Going into "The Love," we get cuts like "The Way That I Am" and "Moments" displaying the insecurities we all feel when falling in love and Ms. Lo's voice has never sounded better. She uses the gravelly tone of her voice to great effect in these songs where emotions are put at the forefront, though there is no shortage of pop hooks like "I can get a little drunk, I get into all the dont's, but on good days I am charming as fuck." Hopefully, that line ends up on most of her merch! Before getting too depressed, Tove indulges in her happiness on "Got Love", a reinvention of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" that screams euphoria thanks to Tove's man.

Once again, Tove saves one of the best for last with her newest single "Not On Drugs." A stadium-sized anthem that challenges Kesha's own hit on whether love is better than drugs. With those synthy guitar chords and tribal beat, Tove is clearly not messing around with her feelings. She is in LOVE, something most people can't express nearly as well as the young Swede.

Ultimately, we must deal with "The Pain," the section with the most hit potential actually. "Thousand Miles" is one of the best ballads of the year and should really give Adele some ideas on where her next album should go (aka have Tove Lo right at least 4 songs for it). "Habits (Stay High)" has already been named one of the best songs of last year and will probably make a reappearance this year, based on the sheer brilliance of everything going on: the lyrics, the stoner pop feeling, and the honesty we seem to continuously get from Tove. It is her breakthrough after all. Though "This Time Around" has its catchy moments, it probably should have been put after "Thousand Miles" as it is sandwiched between a hit and a banger. And really, the only reason I said that is because it is the ONLY criticism I could muster for this review.

Thankfully, Tove doesn't forget the number of dance singles she's featured on over the past year and includes her own edit of the Lucas Nord hit "Run On Love." The Queen Of The Clouds edit strips away most of the synthy glitz of the original but keeps the pulsing beat and Tove's vocal sounds much more at home. The remix that started it all is also included, with Hippie Sabotage upping the stoner quality to create a hypnotic and distorted "Stay High" that has mesmerized us since the beginning of the year. Finally, you know it's a killer album when the bonus tracks "Love Ballad" and "Crave" are so amazing that you have to wonder what else was recorded for this beast.

Queen Of The Clouds was always creeping up on 2014 as raising the bar and redefining where pop was heading. Gone are the days of hands in the air, EDM jams in the club. Now we have hazy electronic production and honest lyrics of all our romantic vices. It's an album of heartbreak and reflection that sets Tove up as that friend you can share all your secrets with. Charli XCX started the trend last year with her debut album but Tove Lo takes it to the next level. That Swedish sensibility got mixed with the wild child in Tove to provide us with the catchiest, most hook worthy songs this side of the globe and has indeed launched Tove Lo as a proper popstar (finally). It's hard to think of a way that someone could top the first amazing album of Q4, so better step up your game Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, because Tove Lo has also claimed the title of Queen Of Pop.

Best Listened: During any part of your relationship with someone special
Best Songs: ALL OF THEM! Special Note: If Timebomb is not released as a single, I'm just gonna have to give up my faith in humanity as a whole.
NSOTP Rating: 100000/10

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