Tove Lo’s debut “Queen Of The Clouds” was my favourite album of 2014 so I was always going to have high expectations on the delivery of her sophomore studio album. And that fact that it delivers close to the emotion and energy is commendable. But I would be lying if I said it was just as magical and impressive. What I loved about her debut was the structure of the track listing which broke up the timeline of a relationship; the lust, the love and the heartbreak. On “Lady Wood” she breaks the album into two parts. “Fairy Dust”; the pure euphoria and high of an encounter and “Fire Fade” the self awareness and dark low’s that soon follows. It’s a moody album that is polished with glittery synths that try to hide the dark undertones so radio remains interested. It’s quite a smart business move that then allows the accompanying short film to visually bring the story to life. Lyrically I can’t fault this record. From the opening track declaring “You know I’m under the influence so don’t trust every word I say” to one of the latter highlights confessing “Don’t talk about, sweep it under the rug like we do”. Her songwriting has always been top of the game and that’s evident with the amount hits she has written not just for herself but the likes of Ellie Goulding, Icona Pop, Nick Jonas and Alesso as well. Where this album is faulted is by the production. While it’s extremely polished and perfectly encodes the dark undertones it’s also where the album lies a massive issue. It’s too polished. Once you reach the hallway mark they all start sounding very similar and have no distinct characters about them making “WTF Love Is” and “Vibes” not as satisfying as they should be. There needs to be more intimacy and sense of raw-ness with these tracks because the lyrics already provide the essentials. “True Disaster” perfectly captures the essence of the album and truly should become a single because I just want to walk around everywhere singing along to this track. The production is reminiscent to MS MR and I thrive on the oozing synths, pumping baseline and smooth vocals. Title track “Lady Wood” closely follows with the same effect detailing the rapid decline of the mental state. “I know what people say about you, they say the same about me. And I don’t care if it’s all true, I want you hanging with me”. While the first half of the record is more dance floor ready lead by the infections “Cool Girl”, the second half is more tech-house experimental pop tracks that still ooze the Tove Lo cool factor. “Don’t Talk About It”, “Imaginary Friend”, “Flashes” and “Keep It Simple” are the stand alone highlights from these said dark tracks.
While “Lady Wood” may not have the same effect her debut had it still allows the listener to dive head first into the brutally honest world of Tove Lo. It’s relatable, catchy and provides some bop worthy tunes. Does it scream out “album of the year”? No. But it is a damn good attempt while not losing who she is an artist.