Recordings | January 2018
By Julio C. Reyna, January 2018 Issue.
Artist: Tove Lo
Album: Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II)
As a sequel to last year’s Lady Wood, Tove Lo returns with Blue Lips. Like its predecessor, the album is separated into two chapters by the interludes “LIGHTBEAMS” and “PITCHBLACK,” contrasting the highs and lows of a relationship. The subject matter is all too familiar here: drugs, blatant sexuality and the aftermath of a split that’s wrapped in either an electro-pop dance affair or a late-night drunk confessional. The only thing these two scenarios have in common is that they both take place between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
The album kicks off with the first single, “disco tits.” Attention-grabbing title aside, this carefree disco-tinged track finds her both embracing her sexual prowess and losing herself in the excitement of seeking out her new lover. It’s all a consequence-free party, and if you one is lucky they may get an invite.
The heartfelt album closer, “hey do you have drugs?” is the complete opposite. The track plays out like a lonely walk home that slowly builds to her realization that her affair has truly come to end. Throughout she repeats, “you won’t save the night for me.” By asking if anyone can help her find a high like the song title suggests, she may be able to escape from the feeling of longing she’s been left with.
With Blue Lips, Tove Lo is not only able to deliver a complete and cohesive continuation of her original project, but she also manages to best it. She has never been one to shy away from uncomfortable subject matter and her eagerness to be that vulnerable and get that personal will continue to be her best overall attribute. Conceptually, sonically and lyrically, this album is her strongest work to date.
Album: War & Leisure
On Miguel’s War & Leisure the familiar hedonism remains the central point, with a certain fear of impending doom lingering throughout. While the album is not the political proclamation that he had alluded was coming, it does attempt to mix in some real-world reminders that the world we live in now is quickly becoming a different place. If the world truly is ending, Miguel is not only going out with a bang, but also a fist full of bangers.
One standout, “Pineapple Skies” is synthy and bass line heavy affair that echoes Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” The song is punctuated by repeated “woos” and the repetitive reassurance of everything eventually being OK. “Sky Walker” shows the album’s most obvious attempt at big pop ambition. With the playful boasting and trap beats, the song is more suited to be on one of featured guest Travis Scott’s albums. It also brings one of the standout and cheeky line “I’m Luke Skywalkin’ on these haters.”
Still, there’s an ever-present threat that culminates with nothing more than mere mentions of social and political change sprinkled throughout. On “City of Angels” we find Miguel living in an imagined Los Angeles that has been reduced to rubble. In this post-war or, perhaps, post-apocalyptic world, he spends his time seeking out his lover amid the chaos.
Like the title suggests, this album finds itself somewhere between the pursuit of pleasure and facing the consequences of a world that is quickly changing. Ultimately, this project is less “war” and more “leisure.” Perhaps that is the overall point he is trying to make here: While the changes are lingering in the background, is there really anything wrong with simply enjoying the present?