Thursday, October 20, 2022

Review: Dirt Femme • Tove Lo

Tove Lo does whatever she damn well pleases. That isn’t something that has developed as she enters the entertainment workforce as a freshly independent artist – that’s just exactly how it’s always been. She’s a married woman now, having eloped in Las Vegas in 2020, yet she opens her fifth studio record with a song declaring herself patient zero of death by love: “No one dies from love, guess I’ll be the first. Will you remember us or are the memories, too, stained with blood now?” she asks as a whiplash trance beat stirs the track into a flashy frenzy. It abuts “Suburbia,” an even stronger wave of anxiety: “Just let me talk this through: So if we had a baby, you’d love them more than me? What if I’m way too lazy for the mom Olympic team?” And that’s just the beginning of Dirt Femme.

Under no uncertain terms, Lo confronts the white picket fence and its double-edged pickets: Marriage, love, the mere idea of motherhood, an eating disorder, and domestic bliss are all emotionally charged contributors to the record otherwise indebted to reckless club and trance music. It’s hard not to imagine a stunning dance over the high-beam synths and toothy bass on “Grapefruit” despite its story: “1, 2, grapefruit, wish I could change overnight. 3, 4, lose more, kill my obsession, please die.” But it’s not all so bleak: “2 Die 4” samples “Popcorn,” once famously covered by the incomparable Crazy Frog, and the two SG Lewis contributions (“Pineapple Slice,” “Call On Me”) deliver exactly what they needed to balance the album.

A Tove Lo record is meant to be sloppy, and maybe a little cockeyed in every sense of the word. But where Dirt Femme lands is a solid dance record with some digressions – the best of which ends up as “I’m to Blame,” an acoustic respite from the breakneck synth work. While the record couldn’t have accomplished anything to push Tove Lo beyond the bonkers extremes of “Disco Tits” or “Glad He’s Gone,” it reinforces what we already knew: Tove Lo does whatever she damn well pleases. And like all the other albums before it, this one will pull a listener by the feet through a trap door into a rave in progress: It’s going to get messy at times and you won't remember parts of it come morning, but it’s best to let go and bounce with it. 

Dirt Femme is available now under Pretty Swede Records. 

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