Review: Enter Tove Lo’s messy femininity in ‘Dirt Femme’

“Dirt Femme,” Tove Lo (Pretty Swede Records)

Femininity is all-encompassing, it’s malleable and flesh deep.

In Tove Lo’s fifth studio album, “Dirt Femme” — the first under her own independent label — the Swedish singer-songwriter and producer profoundly understands the female experience can be painful, messy and iridescent. Tove Lo rejects the confined cage of femininity and gets dirty.

In “Dirt Femme,” Tove Lo is able to analyze her marriage and rejects the traditional nuclear family in “Suburbia,” singing “I can’t be no Stepford wife.” She explores an eating disorder that plagued her teenage years in “Grapefruit” — the purposefully sweltering beats makes this song a deniable club banger — and self-hatred and self-sabotage in “I’m to Blame,” her most candid song yet.

Lead single “No One Dies from Love” documents how Tove Lo’s interpretation of femininity means showing the vulnerability of heartbreak as she sings against heavy ’80s-inspired synth, “No one dies from love/Guess I’ll be the first. Will you remember us?/Or are the memories too stained with blood now?” Her second single, “2 Die 4” samples “Popcorn” by Gershon Kingsley in a shimmering, fatal love song that screams camp.

Other album standouts include “Call on Me” and “Pineapple Slice,” produced by British EDM artist SG Lewis. The songs take the listener into a disco rave curated by two juggernauts of the now mainstream genre.

Tove Lo ponders the question, “After the pain is there more?” She confidently answers it through a sharply written and a sonically creative career-defining album. She shatters the pristine image of femininity shoved down her throat as woman. She is an artist — and now a independent label owner — while simultaneously dancing on a club dancefloor.

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Follow reporter Nardos Haile on Twitter: https://twitter.com/nardoshaile

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