Tove Lo is an artist many probably thought disappeared out of the mainstream, known famously for her biggest pop hits, “Talking Body” and “Habits (Stay High).” Yet, she’s continuously made music since her debut in 2014. Now, the Swedish pop star is back with what may just be her best album yet, “Dirt Femme.”
Back in June, Lo revealed the new project to fans through an Instagram post, saying, “It’s dramatic, cinematic, highly emotional and sexy. It is about me and my relationship with my femininity. How it’s helped me and hurt me. It’s about my body, my fears, my dreams.”
After much foreshadowing, the singer didn’t disappoint fans this past Friday with the album’s release, bouncing back with a fierce and confident, yet self-reflective and vulnerable, pop masterpiece.
Much of “Dirt Femme” revolves around Lo’s love life, detailing the highs and lows of being in love. In particular, the foundation of marriage comes into play, with the singer hinting that she may be single. Yet, she also discusses valuing one’s independence and staying loyal and consistent to a lover, as well as struggling with body image and societal norms, making it an important statement piece.
The opening track, “No One Dies From Love,” is by far one of the standouts of this project, a cinematic account of losing a lover and regretting it. With electrified synths reminiscent of a club-inspired disco track from the 80s, Lo asks, “We were so magical, why end this way? / I know you’re furious, yeah, just like me,” clearly upset with how things ended in her past relationship.
The theme of self-reflection continues on other tracks such as “Grapefruit,” where Lo opens up about her battle with an eating disorder, a common problem experienced by many women in the digital age of social media and diet culture. It’s refreshing to hear a female artist’s perspective on the matter and makes the listening experience overall feel more vulnerable.
Meanwhile, “Suburbia,” is another track that finds Lo questioning society, particularly wondering why it strongly emphasizes the enactment of gender norms, along with the concept of marriage and motherhood. The track also sees the singer addressing her own marriage and how it even happened, singing, “I never wanted babies / I know they're kinda cute / I never wanted marriage / But here I am with you.” All in all, it’s a poignant song, with Lo not afraid to call out the societal inconsistencies women face, not only from policies and stigma but from their partners as well.
While Lo laments about the falsehoods of true love, she also contradicts these opinions with “True Romance,” which is a stellar vocal performance. With only Lo’s voice at the forefront, the emotional ballad proves that the singer would die for the person she loves, even if she finds herself in trouble now and then. “Take a life for me / You know I'd do it instantly / In danger of a true romance / We are meant to be / I'd die for love and loyalty / In danger of a true romance,” is an example of Lo’s lyrical genius on the album, making the song one that you can instantly shed a tear to.
“2 Die 4” and “Call on Me (with SG Lewis)” are two tracks that amp up the drama within “Dirt Femme,” transporting listeners to a crowded dance floor to release their inner longing for someone, just as Lo is. Integrating an EDM vibe into some of the album, the singer plays with her sound and makes the listening experience more worthwhile through thumping bass and auto-tuned harmonies.
Towards the end of its 40-minute run time, *“How Long” brings the album to a close, ending on a relatively sour note. Lo seems to have been deceived by a lover through a moment of infidelity, heartbroken that she was not good enough for them. “How, how long have you loved another / While I'm dreamin' of us together? / She got the best of you / Part of me always knew” reveals the singer’s thoughts on the matter, a warning that love can be deceitful.
Overall, “Dirt Femme” is an impressively captivating work, an amazing showcase of Tove Lo’s creativity and concept of producing an album centered around femininity, love and loss. There’s not one song on this album that listeners can’t relate to, and the singer is finally in her element, even if she has experienced a few setbacks in her personal life.