Since scoring in 2014 with “Habits (Stay High),” a brash anthem about self-medicating your way through a breakup, Swedish singer-songwriter Tove Lo has become a fearless outsider in pop music—the Janis Ian in a cafeteria full of Regina Georges. It’s a role she embellishes further on her excellent second studio album. With a title that refers to female arousal, Lo sounds as if she’s in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. And what a beautiful and messy one it is. Over a dozen tunes, she grapples with the complex emotions of a young woman who’s always falling for the wrong guy—and always seeking solace in an after-hours club. As she confesses on the woozy, hip-swiveling “WTF Love Is”: “I know I’m a handful.” While Lo’s lyrics are stark and intensely personal, the music sounds engineered for the masses. Lo, who’s written for Ellie Goulding and apprenticed with Max Martin, gets assists from Swedish songwriting pros the Struts. And together they mine pop gold, from the lead single, “Cool Girl,” to the futuristic R&B-tinged “Don’t Talk About It,” where she boasts, “Know it’s hazy/But it’s amazing.” You’ll say the same about Lady Wood.
A rubberband beat, an “ooo-eee-ooo” hook, and GFY lyrics — what else do you need?
Lo admits to being an unreliable narrator on one of the album’s most irresistible tracks. “You know I’m under the influence,” she admits, “so don’t trust every word I say,” before throwing the song to Wiz Khalifa for one of his fieriest verses yet.