March’s Swedish flavour is one of our favourites, Tove Lo. Lo has already caught the eyes and ears of 2013’s major breakthrough artist, Lorde, who tweeted that Habits, a song from Lo’s new mini-album, Truth Serum, had the potential to be a massive hit.
The 25-year-old Stockholmer was predictably delighted: “I was blown away! I thought it was a joke at first. A friend sent me a picture of it. Then I saw it was real and I was like, ‘Wow’. I love her. I think she's one of the best things to happen for women in pop music who write their own songs. I think she’s opened so many doors for girls coming up.”
Tove Lo - Habits (Stay High):
A remix of Habits has just been added to the Radio One playlist in the UK. Momentum is building. One influential blog has called Lo “the Swedish Janis Joplin.” Lo’s knack is to write great pop songs with real, raw emotion. Her prime subject is heartbreak. But she doesn’t deal in cliche. Instead she has a knack of conveying desperation that hits you right in the solar plexus.
Lo explains that what she calls her “dirty honesty” is deliberate. “My songs are an opportunity to be honest. I deal with my own issues. There are a lot of ways to blame other people, but it’s always two people in a relationship. I get sick of hearing people going “oh, he or she was such an asshole to me, he cheated on me sixty times”, and you’re like, “well why did you stay?”. The answer is always: “Because I love him.” And, you know, if you love a broken person you’re going to get hurt.
And, anyway, it’s not always the other person's fault. And I've messed up many times—it's my way to deal with that. If I have a hard time apologizing or saying it to the person, or he doesn't want to hear it, it helps me to sing it and just get it out of me. At least I'm admitting to what I did. Sometimes I feel that my music is too honest, but I wouldn’t be able to write in any other way.”
And this is the key to Lo’s brilliance. On the surface she writes slick, melodic, slightly edgy pop songs. But just beneath the surface is a roiling sea of hurt, lust and failure. It’s a potent blend and one which has propelled her to the cusp of something big.
Tove Lo - Out of Mind:
Her songwriting prowess, meanwhile, has already been recognized. She’s written songs for Girls Aloud with the hit machine, Xenomania, and has been recruited by Sweden’s premier pop export, Max Martin, to co-write songs. "He was keeping an eye on me and asked if I wanted to be part of his new writing staff. I said yes although we're only really getting started.”
Should Lo be successful globally she’ll be mixing it with old schoolfriends, Icona Pop.
"I hope to have their success, they deserve all they get but I've not seen them in ages. They're on the Miley Cyrus tour in the US at the moment so I'm waiting to get the full report."
ALBUM OF THE MONTH
Thou Shall Not Be A Pussy
Swedish pop may be enjoying a golden age but the same cannot be said of Swedish music critics. Ida Redig garnered some very approving reviews of her gentle, pastoral 2010 album, Standing Here. It was a nice enough album, but mostly indistinguishable from a thousand other pretty singer-songwriters peddling soft folk.
Thou Shall Not Be A Pussy could not be more different. It’s a brittle, sparky, occasionally troubled and mostly fantastic electropop album. The reaction from Sweden’s media has generally been negative and along the lines of “how dare she change?” One even wrote that she wanted to support new artists who experiment but ended up saying she only liked the songs that sounded like Redig’s first album. Such support. Such insight.
Generally, the Swedes are rather dismissive of their homegrown talent - there’s still a provincial feel about the music business here despite its huge success. They seem to not understand that someone like Redig is making music that sounds unlike pretty much anything else at the moment. And it should be savoured.
For instance, last year’s single I’m In Trouble sounds like a Sixties girl group fronting Kasabian, while Shout’s thunderous percussion is bolstered by a vast, euphoric chorus and Lie is a heartbroken, weeping electro-ballad. Only the first track, the bewilderingly underwhelming Hello is a failure. Maybe that’s it. Perhaps Swedish music critics are lazy. Maybe they just didn’t listen beyond the first track.
Ida Redig - Shout
The Weeping Willows
The Time Has Come
This Stockholm band return with the best album of their 19-year history, a tear-soaked collection of dramatic ballads of which Scott Walker would be proud. Glorious.
Weeping Willows - We’re In Different Places
GIG OF THE MONTH
One of our tips for 2014 with her lush, funky soul.
Friday, April 11, Järntorgsgatan 12 413 01 Gothenburg
Naomi Pilgrim - No Gun