Provocative and Mesmerizing
The third studio album by Swedish singer Tove Lo is a continuation of her 2016 album, Lady Wood. Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II) is split into two chapters: “LIGHT BEAMS” and “PITCH BLACK,” whose titles frame the progression of the album. The first half plays like the start of a night at the club, while the second half feels like the hazy, messy end of the night. Fourteen tracks paint an electric, chaotic tailspin of a love life in crisis. Tove Lo is unapologetically blunt, provocative, and free.
The first single “disco tits” kicks off the night with ‘70s dance pop and ‘90s electronics produced by The Struts. The song revolves around the risque lyrics, “I’m sweat from head to toe / I’m wet through all my clothes / I’m fully charged, nipples are hard / Ready to go,” sung deadpan. The Struts also produce the follow-up, “shedontknowbutsheknows,” where Tove Lo plays the mistress.
Payami produces the last three tracks of chapter one. Arpeggios in the melody ensure Tove Lo’s voice is the focal instrument on “dont ask dont tell.” Next, she prowls for a one night stand on the standout track, “stranger.” The final track of chapter one, “bitches,” is a provocative nod to lesbian sex. The song also appears at the end of the singer’s short film, Fairy Dust.
Lulou and Choukri Gustmann produce the start of the album’s second chapter, “PITCH BLACK.” The dark, moody interlude connects to “romantics” featuring Daye Jack. The rhythmic duet muses about a forever love over trap beats but has a dreamy, slow-motion feel to it. Plain synths, tropical percussion, and distorted vocals make up the dose of reality Tove Lo gets as she describes being stuck in “cycles.” She sings, “You’re afraid (yeah) / The way I love you now and my love in the past are the same / And the things I say are the things I used to tell them / And that really hurts me.” However, the emotional core of the album falls on “9th of october.” The song represents the date the singer ended the toxic relationship that inspired Lady Wood.
The first half of the album is stronger than its counterpart. Tove Lo’s “Cool Girl” tongue-in-cheek dark-pop has more bite than the radio-safe tracks that drizzle out the end of Blue Lips. As a whole, the concept album champions sexual liberation with Tove Lo’s care-free attitude.