Tove Lo
Lady Wood


3.0
good

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (132 Reviews)
November 5th, 2016 | 110 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A fun pop record, plain and simple.

I’ve often had a hard time accepting the term “guilty pleasure” regarding any art form. Taken literally at face value, this label means that one feels guilty or embarrassed for enjoying a particular piece of work; however, it just seems a bit self-deprecating and insecure to me. Sure, pop princesses like Katy Perry and Kesha display a remarkable level of vapidity and gloss in their lyrics and music. But if you enjoy them regardless and find yourself grooving to their music anyway, I feel as though there shouldn’t be shame in that. No, I found a better term: “simple pleasures.” The label applies to many of the artists that are often considered guilty pleasures; the music may not be cerebral or technical, and the lyrics may be dumbed down, but the beats and melodies are catchy enough to enjoy on a superficial level. As for today’s review, one of Tove Lo’s sophomore release Lady Wood (what a title!), “simple pleasure” is the best label I can use here.

When her debut Queen of the Clouds came out, Tove Lo seemed poised to break quite a few typical pop cliches and conventions. The decision to break the album up into three sections - The Sex, The Love, and The Pain - and separate them with interludes was a neat idea, one that harkened back to the interlude-driven conceptual nature of Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 record. The music largely consisted of electropop bangers, but there was a certain depth to admire in the songwriting and especially Tove Lo’s passionate singing. Lady Wood, while stylistically similar, is much more lean and stripped down; the grand choruses and glossy production are there, and yet a more straightforward no-frills pop record ended up being the result. Hell, there’s a Wiz Khalifa feature in the very first track (barring the intro)! However, while this album often doesn’t match the heights and ambitions of Queen of the Clouds, Tove Lo may have made the right decision here. With a 39-minute runtime, Lady Wood isn’t quite as overlong as its predecessor; we simply get 12 sharp cuts of electropop and synthpop fun, many of which are undercut with dark pulsing club-ready beats that lend a certain edge to the music. The intro “Fairy Dust” immediately kicks the album off with a spacious synthesizer motif, one which creeps so subtly into the next song “Influence” that it all feels like one track. This, more or less, sets the tone for the rest of the album. Flash meets minimalism, and soft verses clash with grand choruses.

There’s some variety once in a while, such as the nimble off-kilter beats of the title track contrasting with the melancholic acoustic guitar of “Vibes”; or there’s the tonal disparity between both of the album’s interludes. Regardless, the dark electropop vibe with haunting synthesizers and pounding rhythms is what remains similar throughout the experience. When you get down to it, Tove Lo herself is the one holding everything together with her strong vocal performances. She might not have carved out a full-fledged identity quite yet, but the varied dynamics and confidence of her singing give a more organic feel to the synthetic instrumentation. This is especially true of the highlight “Don’t Talk About It,” in which her multi-tracked vocals and soaring falsetto lend some real soul to her songwriting muscle. While the songs tend to become indistinguishable from time to time, Tove tries her hardest to inject variety with numerous different vocal techniques, although the sultry and seductive route is often what she chooses.

There are some weird quirks on the production end of things however, the oddest of which being an interesting lack of bass in the mix. It’s certainly there to an extent, and the beats are pounding and loud, but there’s a distinct lack of punch from time to time. Also, the lyrics are blunter with their themes of sex and betrayal than on Queen of the Clouds. This occasionally works when combined with Tove’s sexy vocal stylings, but does seem like a letdown after the way the album’s predecessor explored so many facets of love and infatuation. Stuff like “Rumors are their only friends/spread that shit around’s what turns them on” from the title track just seems so catty and douchey, and then there’s something like, “temperature is taking hold/heart beating faster and faster/I’ll be your brand new disaster” from “Vibes,” which sounds like an erotic version of a terrible romance novel you’d find at Walmart for three dollars. I’m not saying all pop lyrics have to be Shakespearian poetry, but considering how decent these compositions are, it’d be nice to have more lines of a similar quality to the songwriting.

Still, I can’t get too mad at Lady Wood. Despite the weirdly provocative and off-puttingly sexual title, this is a fun slice of pop with strong choruses and great vocals. There’s a lot of energy here despite the dark undertow left by the murky synthesizer parts, and the contrast of minimalist and ostentatious moments is cool to hear. The album is a step down from Queen of the Clouds, however, and doesn’t really strive to be much more than an entertaining synthpop record. But sometimes, that kind of simplistic fun is all you need.



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user ratings (88)
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
connor12 (4)
Tove Lo introduces herself as our "brand new disaster" and pop music is all the better for it....


Comments:Add a Comment 
DivergentThinking
November 5th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I hope my thoughts weren't too jumbled here. The middling releases are often the toughest to write for, it seems

Relinquished
November 5th 2016


44713 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

she did great here, channeling madonna and others while adding that cool confidence you mentioned. found it more focused and actually better than the other record. I don't see revisiting this much myself but I know my wife loves the record.

DivergentThinking
November 5th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, it'll be interesting to see where she goes from here. To me, it would be cool if she could somehow go for a balance between the sounds of both records she's released so far

Ebola
November 5th 2016


3823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I still spin her first record with relative frequency, so I'm pretty excited to hear this. Superb review as well

PumpBoffBag
November 5th 2016


962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review Brendan, take a pos. Listened to this yesterday, thoroughly enjoyed it

Digging: Celeste - Infidele(s)

DivergentThinking
November 5th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks guys. Considering how badly this album was being received, I was surprised at how decent it was

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


31794 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yea agreed



this was set up to be such a mess but it ended up having a few great songs

Relinquished
November 5th 2016


44713 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

set up how? I thought the singles were good.

Green Baron
November 5th 2016


25009 Comments


I love the vaginal design on the album cover

DivergentThinking
November 5th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Such seductive, much sexy

Ebola
November 5th 2016


3823 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don't like it quite as much as QOTC at the moment, but this is still really good. Easily one of the best artists in pop

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
November 5th 2016


31794 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@linq i did not like cool girl at all



so much so that i never even sought out the others

Tyler.
November 6th 2016


17972 Comments


Yo just give me the must jams from this

DivergentThinking
November 6th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^ Don't Talk About It, Influence, Vibes (despite the lyrics), and Lady Wood. There you go :]

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2016


31794 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

imaginary friends

DivergentThinking
November 6th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, that one's good too

OldCrime
November 6th 2016


431 Comments


That cover makes me think of Bill Hicks.

DivergentThinking
November 6th 2016


6226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lol, I can see that

smaugman
November 6th 2016


5120 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

http://i.imgur.com/XI35vwm.gifv

this chick

Zettel
November 6th 2016


661 Comments


Great review. I do not think there is something else to say about this album. Good not great, catchy but unmemorable.



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