I have to hand it to Tove Lo – in her debut effort Queen of the Clouds, she takes on common, even clichéd, pop themes of love and romance and mutate them into darker and even twisted versions of the same new, same old.
Sure, everyone loses a boyfriend, big deal, but she ramps up the heartbreak to self-destructive levels in Habits (Stay High), where she indulges in meaningless sexual encounters to forget her heartache. Her behavior only reminds her of how much she is hurting, but she can’t break out of her habit, so it’s sad faces all around. On the other hand, she brags about how she Like Em Young, and anyone who disagrees with this can go kiss her rear end. It’s like listening to those songs by pop tarts out there, only this particular pop tart isn’t afraid to go into places that many pop tarts won’t even want to mention.
The music is pretty good as well. Talking Body is fun and fast, Not on Drugs is too catchy for its own good, and Love Ballad is not a ballad at all, just a feel good song with a beat that feels like summer all year long. The best song here is Habits (Stay High), though, as the melody and the haunting rawness in the words fit together to give one unforgettable tune.
Musically, Queen of the Clouds is in some ways a collection of radio-friendly pop tunes that won’t break new grounds, but it also presents a kind of disturbing honesty that you won’t see Ariana Grande and other reigning pop tarts of the moment tackling anytime soon. That makes it worth a spin, I feel.