Tove Styrke has changed dramatically over the past three years. Since releasing her last album Kiddo back in 2015, she has signed to the awesome Chess Club Records, toured the US with Lorde and teased her eagerly anticipated new album Sway with the release of five singles over the past year.
Opening with the title track Sway, we instantly get the vibe that Styrke is frustrated with an uptight lover who’s afraid of commitment, as she angrily sings “Why are you on your phone?”. This narrative of wanting more from a relationship runs throughout this album and connects each song nicely. The guitar is really a nice touch on this track, making the song stand out from some of her other new songs whilst also bridging the gap between this album and her previous one. The only problem that arises upon first listen is how quickly she delivers her vocals, as sometimes it can be difficult to fully understand what she’s saying in the verses, but in general she always manages to get the message across.
Our first introduction to the all new Tove Styrke was Say My Name, featuring twangy guitars which sound so quirky and refreshing. Some of the vocal manipulation on this track wouldn’t seem out of place on an M.I.A record and her backing vocals give her the powerful delivery that she needed for this to earn the banger status that it deserves.
Tove Styrke – Say My Name
On the Low is the most vulnerable moment on this album, with Styrke repeatedly singing “I don’t wanna keep it on the low”, suggesting that she can’t hide her love for this person any longer. Her vocals are fragile on this track and the beats are a little softer to match the vulnerability in the lyrics. In the chorus, she shouts ‘ON THE LOW!’ and it perfectly contrasts the whispery, airy vocals, letting out her frustration and representing her desire to declare her love to the world. The lyrics are so direct that they sound like a conversation between two lovers and when you’re listening, you feel a little bit like you’re listening in on a conversation between them.
Changed My Mind is a pop masterpiece and it’s rare to hear a pop song that deals with the topic of falling in love with someone who you’d previously treated as a friend. I’m not really a fan of the vocal manipulation towards the end of this track, I found it a bit too strange but that’s just down to my personal taste, it doesn’t really spoil the track.
Tove Styrke – Changed My Mind
It’s a little disappointing that we don’t get to hear a brand new track until we’re over halfway through this short eight-track album. I Lied features quite child-like vocals, but she’s really having fun with it and it’s nice to hear. The second new track On A Level is very interesting sonically, it plays with the listener with pauses before each beat drops. It’s a rollercoaster to listen to, keeping you on edge at all times. It’s surprising that she chose to close the album with a cover of Liability by Lorde. The cover is brilliant and she totally made it her own, but I don’t think it was the right choice to close her album with it.
Tove Styrke has certainly proven that she’s capable of making fun, quality pop music that can win the hearts of audiences around the world. She’s proudly pop, and she’s doing it with some boundary-pushing production, keeping within the mainstream whilst retaining plenty of the quirkiness that sets her apart.
Review by Conor Giblin