Tove Lo shines with new sparkle on her fourth record Sunshine Kitty

S.+Bollmann+%7C+Wikimedia+Commons

S. Bollmann | Wikimedia Commons

Diana Shishkina

Tove Lo is known for bringing the edge, rawness and sass that pop music can sometimes lack. The 31-year-old Swedish sensation originally became known worldwide for her 2014 song “Habits (Stay High),” which painted a hazy image of constant parties and substance abuse that masked heartbreak and loneliness.

Five years later, Tove Lo released her fourth album, Sunshine Kitty, on Sept. 20, and its tone is no different.

The 14-track record feels very akin to the singer’s unwavering style, and mainly focuses on the topic of love  in all of its complex, twisted, happy and sad forms.

The first track after the intro, “Glad He’s Gone,” plays into the typical “you’re my best friend and he never deserved you” conversation, as Tove Lo comforts her friend that’s in a less-than-satisfying relationship and reminds her that she’s all that and deserving of love and respect.

The second track, “Bad as the Boys,” is a simple, more mainstream-sounding song. However, its focus on a queer relationship is refreshing in a world where heteronormative breakup songs are a dime a dozen.

Tove Lo sings about a summer love with a woman that did not work out, and she realizes that girls can cause hurt just as much as boys can.

While the song leaves much to be desired in its actual message, the fact that Tove Lo and featured singer ALMA reveal the hurt and vulnerabilities queer women can have is monumental.

The next two songs, “Sweettalk my Heart” and “Stay Over,” also describe already-popular tropes of pop music, as Tove Lo allows herself to naively start falling in love in the first song, and then try to convince someone to spend the night with her in the second song.

In “Sweettalk my Heart,” Tove Lo sings, “Hope is protection, saving us both/Got good intention and passion, can’t run low/Don’t wanna deal with all the sad stuff, keeping it real/Playing pretending when it gets rough.” 

Tove Lo is telling listeners and herself that she’s letting herself hope that she can be happy and loved.

“Stay Over” meanwhile highlights the struggle of wanting both someone to be there just for the night and for a while. Adding to the complexity, the object of Tove Lo’s affection just got out of a messy relationship themselves and does not want to be too committed to anyone.

Tove Lo also explores several gray areas that exist in the area of love, hookups and dating. The sixth track, “Are U gonna tell her?” was a more interesting track for Tove Lo to produce, as the featured artist on the song was singer and rapper MC Zaac, who is a Brazilian artist that spoke no English.

However, MC Zaac and Tove Lo were able to create a delicious dancy jam that talks about feeling guilt after hooking up with someone who is in a relationship with someone else.

In the ninth track, “Come Undone,” the Swedish artist acknowledges her strong, almost obsessive feelings of love for a person, but questions whether this love is real and how strong it really is, and the uncertainty drives her crazy.

Finally, in “Really don’t like u,” which features Australian singer Kylie Minogue, Tove Lo sees an ex at a party with somebody new, and starts projecting her hurt onto this person that she does not know.

She knows that this is irrational behavior, but this new person puts all of her insecurities on the table, as heard in the lines, “Really, I just don’t like you/Look prettier than I do tonight/You make it hard to have a good time.”

Besides exploring strong feelings of love and pain, Tove Lo also explores feeling dislike and distrust toward people from her past. In “Mateo,” she addresses a man she loved but whom she had to compete with many other girls for, and how he would not notice her when she was being herself.

Mateo may also be the guy who is breaking her friend’s heart and being selfish in “Glad He’s Gone,” which connects the album across conflicting emotions regarding the same person.

Sunshine Kitty is an album that adapts to its listeners’ emotions. Whether one needs a song for intense love, hurt or confusion, this record is able to provide that all with Tove Lo’s versatility.

Even though Tove Lo is as raw and vulnerable as she has always been, she also shows incredible strength through acknowledging her thoughts and feelings, no matter how delusional or impulsive they seem in the moment.