Swedish popstar Tove Lo returns from her two-year hiatus with her newest album “Sunshine Kitty.” The singer takes a new, happier direction on this LP and distances herself from the somberness and pain of the records that blasted her to fame.
To this day, she is perhaps still best known for her 2014 breakout song “Habits (Stay High).” The reason for the song’s mass appeal back then was her ability to capture the raw pain of heartbreak, expressed against the backdrop of a perfectly melancholic electropop song that would be overplayed in clubs everywhere.
“Habits” still elicited positive feelings after leaving the club itself, as its message transcends the fun-loving environment. The track’s ideas of pain, excess and loss were relatable, and it felt good to hear them in a brash, unapologetic pop hit. Since then, Tove Lo has cultivated her pop stardom, releasing two more albums with even more smash hits like “Cool Girl” and “disco tits,” and collaborated with Australian DJ Flume on the uber popular “Say It” before taking a two-year hiatus.
“Sunshine Kitty” sees Tove Lo taking a step back from the state of mind she exhibited on “Habits,” pivoting to a new perspective: She is now in a happier place, and decidedly not bingeing on twinkies from “Habits.” After years of bad relationships, drugs and vices that inspired songs like “Queen of The Clouds,” “Lady Wood” and “BLUE LIPS,” Tove Lo moved to Los Angeles and left her troubled state of mind behind in Sweden for a new beginning in the United States.
Her newfound happiness manifests itself in the opening track “Glad He’s Gone,” which was released as the album’s lead single earlier this year. With its catchy melody and chorus, the track is an absolute earworm. It sweetly blends acoustic guitar and Tove Lo’s prototypical electropop beats. Above all, it is a healthy affirmation of girl power — her friend has gotten rid of a toxic ex-boyfriend’s presence in her life and she is much better for it.
In a lot of ways, “Sunshine Kitty” is reminiscent of Tove Lo’s past work. On “Bad as Boys,” she does not stray away from her typical personal and provocative topics, such as her bisexuality and her performative quirks. Tove Lo is the same artist known for taking her top off during live performances of “Talking Body,” baring all onstage.
Songs like “Stay Over” are satisfyingly confessional, showing her take the plunge to tell her lover that she wants something more from their relationship than sex. “Stay Over” is reminiscent of “Habits” but this time, Tove Lo’s innermost thoughts are filtered through a changing personal life that helps form her discography.
“I was definitely going through some s–t on ‘Lady Wood’ and ‘Blue Lips,’” Tove Lo said in an interview with Billboard. “This album is written from a calmer place so, naturally, it’s me looking out instead of in.”
Besides the overall tone, “Sunshine Kitty” also boasts more features than ever before, most notably from Kylie Minogue on “Really don’t like u” and viral sensation Doja Cat on “Equally Lost.” On “Really don’t like u,” Kylie and Tove Lo share an honest dialogue on girl-on-girl crime. They are open and admit that, despite it all, Kylie and Tove Lo hate their ex’s new girls on the account that they exist and fill a hole that they were once there to patch up.
Tove Lo’s daringness and drive to be open points to the current state of modern female pop and where it is going. She is a multidimensional artist and has no reason to hide her thoughts because they are authentically hers. While she has had the label of being “Sweden’s darkest pop export” before, “Sunshine Kitty” proves that Tove Lo can simultaneously be happy, sad, hateful and everything in between.
On the chorus of “Sweettalk my Heart”, Tove Lo reiterates the line “I can be yours now” over and over. This new Tove Lo is someone who does not have to fill the void of missing someone with vices like she did five years ago. Rather, she is the best version of herself, now ready to let someone entirely new into her life.
“Sunshine Kitty” ushers in a new era of one of today’s most prominent pop stars, and while the changes in her life have made her grow both as a person and as a musician, their inspiration for a new sound does not fall short. This new direction manifests itself in a more open and free sound that paves the way for Tove Lo to open up in a way that few other pop stars can manage.