Lady Wood (Island Records)

Swedish artist Tove Lo released her sophomore album Lady Wood on Oct. 28, and the 12-track set provides a well-executed run of catchy, vaguely-familiar rhythms that set up the deceptive expectations of fluffy reiterations of butterflies-in-love lyrics and party anthems that every high school cheerleader listens to while in line at Jamba Juice.

Lady Wood’s tracks are clean and well-manipulated, filled with bass drops, electro-warbles, and looping vocalizations. The album opens with the ambient, synth-laced, instrumental track “Fairy Dust – Chapter I” which leads into ironically ethereal “Influence” (feat. Wiz Khalifa), where Tove Lo croons, “You know I’m under the influence so don’t trust every word I say.”

The album lyrically shoves away any desires for intimacy—despite its attractive sound—these are not a sappy, rationalizing songs whose crooner is yearning to fall in love forever. “Rumors are my only friends/they spread their shit around/what turns them on?” Tove Lo demands in the track “Lady Wood.”

Lady Wood  is a vicious lyrical commentary on the degradation of femininity in pop music culture that masquerades as the latest gooey album that’s dropped from the electro-pop machine. It’s a brilliant disguise, and it works because the dance rhythms, vocal timbres, and peppy beats are familiar enough to force a saturated audience to actually pay attention to Tove Lo’s mantra in “True Disaster,” where she hollers, “Pretty girls, they like it fancy but you don’t keep it clean/We get dirty and we go hard, some things we don’t mean.”

Lady Wood’s seamless synthpop rhythm supports a thoughtful, aggressive discussion of the roles of female pop artists, implying that their craft can be classy, edgy, and profound.

Elsa Peterson
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