Tove Lo
Sunshine Kitty


3.5
great

Review

by PumpBoffBag USER (85 Reviews)
March 24th, 2020 | 14 replies


Release Date: 09/20/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Adorable, but with plenty of bite

Within the realms of modern pop music, there are very few as self-aware and singularly focused at Tove Lo. The highly sexualised, rebellious aesthetic that was established in her debut LP has snaked its way into every subsequent release, and when paired with the individual ideal of each record, has yielded different but unique results. Queen Of The Clouds, her most straightforward pop release, was a refreshing adaptation of modern songstress sensibilities with more than a cursory sense of edginess thrown in. Lady Wood was the overcompensating sophomore album- still infectious, but this time overflowing with attitude and an attempted grandiosity that buckled under its own weight. Quickly learning from her mistakes, Lady Wood Phase II: Blue Lips released in 2017; more mature, more adventurous in both theme and composition, and considerably more enjoyable as a result. One of the most compelling factors of the musical style on display throughout her career is the use of sex as a strength rather than a mere marketing tactic; clear in both live performances and studio recordings, the sense of empowerment is palpable. Even if this angle was revealed at a later date to be a cynical ploy for attention, the irony that Tove Lo has been much maligned by the industry would not be lost in the effect that writing such quintessentially feminine anthems ultimately had. She may be best known for a remix of one of her first singles, but despite this, the evolution of her output is plain to see at even a passing glance.

Sunshine Kitty is, in many ways, the culmination of every release that came before it, and as such feels as appropriate and fitting an addition to her backcatalogue as any of her other LPs. In many ways, the aesthetic appears to have come full circle, with the poppy hooks of QotC, the whimsicality of LW, and the suppressed emotionality of BL all amalgamated into an easily digestible, satisfyingly bouncy mix of buoyant and infectious, if subdued, energy. Predominantly, song structures conform to the usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus style, but the simplicity of the hooks when combined with the vocal melodies and sleek rhythms is highly endearing. Tracks such as ‘Glad He’s Gone’, ‘Stay Over’ and ‘Shifted’ are very basic from a technical standpoint, yet also have nuanced production that brings the compositions together to make them more than the sum of their parts. The sexual imagery is dominant and eroticised in a heavily modern way, and this works in tandem with the suggestively fluctuating tunes and vocalised hooks. ‘Stay Over’, especially, is sultry and provocative, with a contained but operatic crash effect used as a rhythm base. It creates an almost fairytale-like vibe to a decidedly simple but relatively relatable theme. All of these songs emphasise a breeziness on additions such as ‘Equally Lost’ and ‘Mistaken’, which is a very welcome juxtaposition. The latter, which has perhaps the most aggressively emotional tone on the album, is sustained by a well-written melody carried by the singer, against the backdrop of a basic synth line (harking back to Lady Wood’s effective straightforwardness). It flows pleasantly despite its heavy topic and manages to effectively see-saw between tones of despair and acceptance in a delicate way- which is a huge credit to Tove Lo’s ability as a singer.

‘Sweettalk My Heart’, easily the closest thing to a title track as Sunshine Kitty has to offer, is probably the most surreal track on the album, but it succeeds due to its amicability, particularly during the excitable and catchy chorus. It also does not venture too heavily into the sexual vibes present on some of the album’s other songs, and instead opts for an idealistically romantic sense of freedom. Similarly, ‘Are U Gonna Tell Her’ and ‘Come Undone’ have gorgeous melodies, particularly during the choruses, and illustrate Tove’s ability to accentuate simplicity with her vocal tones perhaps better than at any other point on the LP. The latter’s syncopated beat is especially effective against the woodwind style synth washes during the chorus, and the fast vocal descends compliment the yearning tone excellently. Weakest offerings, ‘Jacques’ and ‘Bad As The Boys’, as a rather dramatic comparison, feel underwritten and awkward in the context of the album. ‘Jacques’ serves as a club banger- a direction largely unexplored since QotC- and whilst it is enjoyable for what it is, there is very little innovation at work in the drops or lyricism. ‘Bad As The Boys’ feels so throwaway the album would almost certainly be better served without it. However, ‘Really Don’t Like U’, featuring a certain Kylie Minogue, is an absolute joy. Absurdly catchy, smartly penned, and with bags of the trademark passive-aggressive ‘tude, it is a standout on the release and one of Tove Lo’s best songs to date, thanks in no small part to its featured artist.

Sunshine Kitty is hands down the most ‘Tove Lo’ Tove Lo has ever sounded, and it is plain to see that the niche she has carved for herself feels comfortable. There is some discordance between the seriousness of the song themes and the playful tone (particularly in the album title and use of txt speak in the track names), but these do serve to render the release more listenable than if they were only focused on the dour topics. Unfortunately, this tradeoff is a little jarring as every song on the album concerns either romance, relationship woes, or the anxiety of uncertainty. The discrepancy unfortunately cheapens the atmosphere overall, but the solid quality of the music on display more than compensates by way of its charm and alluring sentimentality. Ultimately, this is an album of tasteful moderation rather than of diluted attitude. There is nothing as aggressively sexual as ‘bitches’, but there is still plenty of frisky energy. There is nothing as heady and depressing as ‘Habits’, but there is more than enough heavy emotionality. Sunshine Kitty is brilliantly catchy, edgy without being too overt, and the most idealistic she has sounded since QotC. Thankfully, Tove has retained all the best aspects of the releases that came before, and yet the evolution is clear. On this very individual path, the songstress can only progress.




Recent reviews by this author
Kirk Knight IIWIICradle of Filth Cruelty and the Beast - Re-Mistressed
Billy Woods, Kenny Segal Hiding PlacesSlipknot Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses
Primitive Man CausticEnabler All Hail the Void
user ratings (35)
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2020


11227 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nicely said my man, sounds like a fun time. I'm far from a pop guy so I'll probably keep this off my plate, but an enjoyable read nevertheless.

TundraL5Z
March 24th 2020


4479 Comments


her strengths, she's hot, music ok, she's hot, she's hot

PumpBoffBag
March 24th 2020


962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Mars thanks for that, much appreciated. Can't say I'm too keen on pop generally either, but this is a nice diversion from general chart fodder I think- effortlessly likeable. I'm sure you'd find something to enjoy were you to give it a spin

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2020


11227 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

If it's worthy of your recommendation, I'm sure I can find time for it. The most I've gotten out of a modern pop record was Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience (part 1, naturally), so I don't know if that'll help me out here lol.

PumpBoffBag
March 24th 2020


962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I had a lot of love for The 20/20 Experience too... I can't say there's a great many similarities tbh, but the two albums definitely share an edginess that's quite welcome and lacking in modern pop. I'd say where 20/20 was almost operatic in scope, this is much more contained. Still very catchy though

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2020


11227 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah, that's what attracted to me to it; it was so over-the-top and epic in scope, which I din't really expect from pop. Really solid songwriting too.

Minushuman24
March 24th 2020


3131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This album's alright, but she's pretty great live

Digging: Fear - The Record

TheSupernatural
March 24th 2020


2100 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This one was a fun album, I'm glad I checked it out last year

brainmelter
March 24th 2020


7079 Comments


isn’t this the girl that flashes on stage when she performs?

Digging: Akron/Family - Akron/Family

PumpBoffBag
March 24th 2020


962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yup

Minushuman24
March 24th 2020


3131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

She sure is

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2020


11227 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Don't need stage lights I guess

Lord(e)Po)))ts
March 26th 2020


55689 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Didnt know elizabeth moss was a singer

Digging: 8 doogymoto - Minimalistico

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
March 27th 2020


1014 Comments


glad this got a review. gj



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy