At midnight this past Friday, Tove Lo’s fourth album “Sunshine Kitty” dropped. As she rebrands herself through intimate stories, Lo shows us her vulnerable side by sharing her recovery through a toxic relationship, acceptance of her sexual identity and newfound love, all through her unique hybrid of Euro-pop vibe and alternative sound.
For those wondering who Tove Lo is, you have most likely heard her sleeper hit single “Habits (Stay High)” in October 2014 when it hit number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 from her debut album “Queen of the Clouds.” Since then, she has released two more albums — “Lady Wood” and “Blue Lips,” the latter dubbed as part two of “Lady Wood” — both earning a rank in the Billboard 200 album list. “Sunshine Kitty” shows a new chapter in Lo’s life as she grows out of her damaged past and embraces her imperfections.
Lo shares her personal growth by reflecting on her past throughout “Sunshine Kitty.” Her past two albums focused on addiction and broken promises, as they were inspired by a toxic relationship she was in. Now that she has left this damaging past, she was able to share her greatest insecurities, doubts and fears, all while upholding a positive mood by taking each mistake as a defining moment that has made her into the better version of herself she is today. As Lo revealed in her Apple Music’s artist statement, the album tells stories taken straight from a collection of personal journals that she has kept from the age of nine. The light-hearted, happy tone breaks from her previous albums, finally freeing herself from her label as “Sweden’s darkest pop export,” the moniker that Rolling Stone Magazine gave her after her first album’s release.
Like her past albums, however, Lo keeps with her personal art-style by upholding a frequent theme to reflect on throughout the album. In spite of the stories spanning a 22 year period, she has kept them relative through the character “Mateo.” This faux ex-boyfriend is introduced within the first track through an introductory audio clip of a phone call. The following track, “Glad He’s Gone,” is a song in which Lo expresses how happy she is to have her best friend back after she has broken up from a bad relationship with Mateo. Here, we receive a stand-in for Lo’s own feelings about her history in a toxic relationship. The character also makes an appearance as the title of the album’s eighth song, when Tove reminisces on how she never feels like “the pretty girl” and has constantly found herself picked last. Mateo is constructed as the man she is always chasing, but who is also constantly on the hunt for a new relationship. From the insecurities she defines through this characterization of Mateo, Lo is able to depict a similar message throughout the rest of her album.
Another moment in which Lo is able to represent her vulnerabilities is in her eleventh track, “Really Don’t Like U,” where she reminisces about running into her ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend and the resulting jealousy that she is now proud to wear on her sleeve. The song features Kylie Minogue and is one of many collaborations in the album. In addition to the Australian pop star, Lo includes songs featuring ALMA, MC Zaac and Doja Cat.
In Lo’s self-discovery, she also reveals her growth and comfort by sharing the story of one of the first crushes that she had on a girl. In “Bad as the Boys,” a collaboration with ALMA, she feels both excited and confused, pulling the memoir from her journals as a young teenager. For this song, Lo reveals in her artist statement on Apple Music that she felt it was important to include another artist who also identifies as a woman-loving-woman, leading to the choice of ALMA, a Finnish pop singer.
In spite of the album’s message reflecting on past mistakes and insecure feelings, the melodies within each song are uplifting, as Lo is finally able to feel comfortable in these weaknesses. She expresses hopefulness in spite of feeling lost and struggling at moments. By creating a vulnerable disposition, she celebrates these mistakes. Lo’s album gives you the confidence to take on the day and appreciate each moment.