Tove Lo knows how to make a first impression. On her 2013 breakout single, “Habits (Stay High)”—the first of three top 20 hits for the Swedish singer—she battled heartbreak by ogling “freaky people” at sex clubs and trawling playgrounds for desperate dads to hook up with. The 28-year-old hasn’t reined in the drug metaphors (or her libido) on her tellingly titled second album, Lady Wood, which addresses the wild-child reputation gleaned from her lyrics and the strain of relationships in the spotlight.
“My worry after the first record was that I wasn’t going to be able to be as personal and open because I was scared because of all the reactions,” she says of the LP, due Oct. 28. “I got a lot of love for being honest and being raw and vulnerable and admitting to mistakes, but there were also a lot of mean comments that my mom always seems to keep finding on the internet.”
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Instead of holding back, however, she decided to open even further, filming a Lemonade-style mini-movie that fans got a taste of in last month’s video for first single “Cool Girl.” Directed by creative partner Tim Erem, the project features songs from the first chapter of Lady Wood, titled “Fairy Dust,” and co-stars actress Lina Esco (Free the Nipple) as her self-destructive alter ego. “I realized I spend my life chasing rushes, whether it’s love or being on stage or drugs,” she says. “[The album is] like every different stage of that rush.” “Fairy Dust” focuses on the early stages of attraction and the initial hit of adrenaline, while “Fire Fade,” the second half of the LP, explores what happens when that spark starts to go out.
Lo hopes the project, which she shot in five days in Los Angeles this summer, will serve as a reel and pave the way for an acting career. For an artist who called her debut album Queen of the Clouds, though, Lo isn’t actually interested in playing one. “I think I’d probably not do very well as a sci-fi queen in some fantasy movie,” she says. Instead, she cites characters from Monster and Girl, Interrupted as the kind of roles she’d like for herself: “Anything that lets the dark side of my brain run free.”