Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Sway | Tove Styrke

The rose shoved in a shiny aluminum soda can on the cover of Tove Styrke’s abbreviated third studio album is perhaps a genius representation of the Swedish singer-songwriter. Considering her previous album's detour into outlandish alternative pop succeeded in being intriguingly off-kilter, her imperfect, indie-bent vocals shouldn’t fit so well in a highlighted pop art picture book of concise love stories – but Sway does a damn fine job at proving otherwise. 

Sway is an eight-track collection of Styrke’s poppiest, most current-minded songs yet – six of which were delivered via drip-feed over the past year without confirmation of an album to come. Minimalist in nature, they are constructed with hallow instrumental centers. Stellar lead-in single "Say My Name" is built upon a scrappy ukulele and not much else. Her vocals on both "Mistakes" and her cover of tour mate Lorde’s "Liability" take the forefront, swooning in a watery vocoder; "Mistakes" blossoms into an ode to all the bad things she’d like to do with a partner, while "Liability" echoes Lorde’s feelings of doom by way of fame. 

Though bare, Styrke's production choices are infectious, and much like her last album, they warrant equal attention in the mix as her charmingly cockeyed voice. The chorus of "On a Level," for example, jerks listeners with abrupt false starts for its first two repetitions before it unfolds into a spacey dance break. And the sparse "Changed My Mind" jumps from side to side with a bouncy beat that is, in part, indebted to Sia’s "Cheap Thrills" – and tastefully so, not as if the beat were recreated with a Xerox machine à la Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You."

Sway is short, sweet, and straightforward, with clean-cut production and no-frills songwriting. It is lovestruck pop at its most refined, cutting away excesses and distractions for an unadulterated shot of saccharin to the jugular. Styrke keeps from falling into the status quo with the voice, which is still ragged at its edges but is often softened with vocoders and Auto-Tune, and the production quirks to keep us all swaying for the mere half-hour she demands our attention.

Sway is available now under Sony Music Sweden.

No comments

Post a Comment

© Aural Fixation