Album Reviews

Tove Lo – Dirt Femme

(Pretty Swede) UK release date: 14 October 2022

The Swede’s fifth album finds her striking out on her own label while making a persuasive case for her continuing star power

Tove Lo - Dirt Femme Having gone from chipmunked remix fodder to Sweden’s hot new popstar and then becoming the notorious gig flasher, it only stands to reason that Tove Lo’s transition to artistic independence via her own Pretty Swede label would be just as distinctive. Dirt Femme, her fifth studio album, takes this opportunity to move away from commercial EDM and try on the electropop sound of Robyn, or vintage Carly Rae Jepsen, while the crystallised toplines make a persuasive case for her continuing star power.

2 Die 4 fits perfectly with the current trend of repurposing old melodies, turning Gershon Kingsley’s Popcorn into a hedonistic hook followed by punchy beats and bass – a bit goofy but ultimately irresistible. Grapefruit’s sleek ’80s-style synths accompany lyrics focusing on an eating disorder Tove Lo struggled with in her teens (“One two, grapefruit / wish I could change overnight / Three four, lose more / Kill my obsession, please die”) while Pineapple Slice soundtracks sexual lyrics with a strutting house groove and glitzy chords.

While much of the record is in this vein, tracks that deviate are scattered throughout. True Romance proves to be Dirt Femme’s emotional core, as an intriguingly vague narrative of love and violence taken from the ’90s film of the same name, is delivered with show-stopping, vocal-cord-shredding intensity over a pulsing crescendo. The only snag is its slightly arbitrary place in the tracklisting, and perhaps the song could have swapped places with closing track How Long and its mid-tempo angst.

I’m To Blame is a significant misfire, as what was intended to be anthemic is wrecked by plodding songwriting and ineffective, stilted production. However, we’re quickly back on track as Kick In The Head delivers vocals about motivation over a loop so funky it’s a surprise the Dust Brothers weren’t involved. If Dirt Femme is the sound of Tove Lo finding her feet, the future seems very bright indeed.

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Tove Lo – Dirt Femme
Tove Lo @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London