'Lady Wood' Demonstrates Tove Lo's Storytelling Abilities

'Lady Wood' Demonstrates Tove Lo's Storytelling Abilities

Her second concept album is even better than the last.
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Tove Lo is not your average pop star.

The Swedish singer-songwriter shot to the top of the charts with her 2014 international hit “Habits.” The lead single of her debut LP “Queen of the Clouds” found Lo turning to marijuana, strip clubs, and sloppy sex to stay high and forget about her lost love. “Habits” was followed by hits like “Timebomb” and “Moments.”

Lo’s music is hyperpersonal—she sings her experiences exactly as they happened with no sugarcoating nor embellishment. She is not afraid to sing about the ones that have hurt her, and she is not afraid to wear her mistakes for the world to see.

Tove Lo’s latest release, “Lady Wood,” is no exception. Entertainment Weekly’s Madison Vain praised the album’s musical and lyrical content, saying “while Lo's lyrics are stark and intensely personal, the music sounds engineered for the masses.”

What may set Lo apart from other pop starlets of her generation most, however, may not be her brutal honesty, but rather her dedication to telling a story through an album that cohesively ties together into an entire plot. “Queen of the Clouds” was a story of passion, romance, and heartache, and was broken up into three chapters: “The Sex,” “The Love,” and “The Pain.”

“Lady Wood” tells the story of, yes, sex, love, and pain, but is tied together by two major themes: the rush of the high, explored in “Fairy Dust (Chapter 1)”, and the crash, explored in “Fire Fade (Chapter 2).”

I’ve already fallen in love with the album and each of its songs, and I (may) have been able to put together the story Lo is attempting to convey with this emotionally-heavy dance-techno album. The story begins with the sprinkle of fairy dust in the air…


1. Fairy Dust (Chapter I)


"Nobody knows me."

This instrumental track begins with the sound of a match being lit that fades into a slowed-down, atmospheric techno melody that symbolizes the agent by which a high occurs, whether that agent is a controlled substance, adrenaline, or passion. This is where Tove Lo’s high begins.


2. Influence

"Don't trust every word I say... I say..."

In “Influence,” Lo meets the man that will soon become the object of her affection. They are far from sober, but that does not stop them from letting loose and having fun. In the chorus, Lo warns him—and the listener—not to trust anything she says, establishing her as an unreliable narrator in her story… trust her at your own risk.


3. Lady Wood

"I know what people say about you; they say the same about me."

Lo has sobered up, and now she’s looking at her man with clear eyes. The fast-paced song finds Lo acknowledging that the man has a bad reputation, but she doesn’t care—people say the same about her, and she wants him by her side. The title of the song refers to female arousal—he turns her on, and she’s not afraid to tell him.


4. True Disaster



"I fool in love; roll up beside me, and you're just as bad."

“Lady Wood” crossfades right into “True Disaster,” and things are starting to get serious between Lo and her lover. She learns more about him, and it’s clear that things are only going to end with heartache on her end. She knows this, but she entices him to “play her heartstrings faster and faster,” only living in the pleasure of the moment.


5. Cool Girl

"Ice-cold, I roll my eyes at you, boy."

Just as she had anticipated, there is a catch to the dynamic between Lo and her lover; she wants love while he wants no commitment whatsoever. She tries to play it off as no big deal, acting like the “cool girl” that’s into sleeping around and sharing lovers with anyone and everyone. Deep down, she knows that no matter how much she tries to pretend, her feelings are for him and him alone.


6. Vibes (feat. Joe Janiak)

"Feeling so high falling into you..."

It’s too much trying to be the Cool Girl, so Lo gives up and lets herself fall into the man, enjoying the rush that comes with doing so. Here, the listener gets the perspective of the man for the first and only time in the album with Joe Janiak’s verse—he promises to be her “brand new disaster.” Everything feels right, but only for a minute…


7. Fire Fade (Chapter II)

This video contains explicit language and some graphic content.

The second instrumental track finds Lo desperately trying to find her lover. He’s gone, and she can’t find him no matter how hard she looks. She’s lost without him, and she doesn’t know what to do with his disappearance. Here begins Lo’s crash; the high is fading, and she’ll begin spiraling to the ground.


8. Don’t Talk About It

"Don't talk about it -- sweep it under the rug like we do, do."

Tove Lo finds herself back in the same settings as the ones from “Habits,” but this time, she’s not puking in her bathtub—she’s having fun. She’s brought someone else into the mix (a potential lover, a friend, it’s not quite clear) to party with plenty of drinks and money to go around. They can hang with her crowd under one condition: “don’t talk about it…” Don’t mention the pain of “Fairy Dust,” and they’re cool to stay in the clique.


9. Imaginary Friend

"I don't know... I guess it's kinda like a voice in my heart... reminding me that there's nothing to fear in the things I'm afraid of..."

Lo lightens the mood just a little bit by describing how she makes it through the pain of reality: she has a voice in her heart telling her that everything is going to be okay. She begs her imaginary friend to stay with her until it’s all over, and the production of the song leaves the listener almost feeling hopeful for the best.


10. Keep It Simple

"I - ain't - ready... I - ain't - ready..."

Lo is trying to move on from the one that broke her heart in “Fairy Dust,” but she finds it impossible to take a relationship with this new person past sex. She’s haunted by the ghost of the one that left her behind, and it makes it impossible for her to give her heart to someone new. She keeps it simple and tells her new lover that she’s simply not ready.


11. Flashes

"What about you?"

Here, Lo struggles with fame and attention. She gets high far too often, and when she comes crashing down, she’s faced her actions are immortalized in photos taken by the paparazzi and posted for the world to see. She sees the camera flashes as enemies, fiends that only want to see her fail, but she battles even more with regret and embarrassment for having done those things in the first place.


12. WTF Love Is

"All the cards with all the love cliches; I wouldn't have it any other way."

In the story’s conclusion, Lo speaks directly to the listener, admitting that she’s far from perfect and way more than anyone bargains for in a relationship, and that she allows her warped view of sex and love to inspire her songwriting. You can hear her frustration hidden behind an otherwise singsong melody, and the album ends with her screaming out, “ugh, f***! I need another,” as she downs a shot of alcohol.


Of course, the only one that can truly tell the story and the meaning behind “Lady Wood” is Tove Lo herself, but it’s still so much fun to go through and try and decode story behind it all on my own.

“Lady Wood” is the first half of a two-part album series, and will be followed by two more chapters in 2017: “Light Beams” and “Pitch Black.” Stay tuned for my analysis of the sequel coming soon!

Cover Image Credit: "Lady Wood" - Tove Lo

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14 Inspirational 'Winnie The Pooh' Quotes For College Kids Feeling Like Eeyore

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Music Review: Greta Van Fleet, "Anthem of the Peaceful Army"

The best rock album of the year.

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Greta Van Fleet is a rock band with a classic rock sound. But what is so amazing is that the four members, 3 of which are brothers, are between the ages of 19 and 22. You have Josh, the lead singer; Jake, who plays guitar; Sam, who plays the bass and piano; and Danny, who plays the drums. They just released their first full album this year, back in October. I have been waiting for this album for so long and it is just so awesome! I love it. I ordered a vinyl record when it was released and it is amazing. This is a breakdown of each song, and what you can expect from each one.

1.​ Age Of Man

Age Of Man: This is the opening song of the album. The song starts off slow, but it reminds me of something mystical. The lyrics of the whole song remind me of an oral story that is being told from an elder to the younger people about how we as people have come about. Josh's vocals are just amazing in the chorus, he can really belt! Overall I think this is a great song, and it's a great opening to what these guys want to tell.

2. The Cold Wind

The Cold Wind: This song is just so fun. Sam does an amazing job in the bass in this song. It sounds so intricate and really adds a lot to this song. Furthermore, Jake's little guitar solo is so fun. One thing that is starting to grow on me about this song is the vocals in the middle of the song where Josh is just saying "Ma ma ma ma ma…". It sounds a little funny and the first time I heard it I actually laughed out loud because it reminded me of a confused dodo bird. But the more I listen to it, the more I like it because it's just such a fun thing. This is the kind of song that I can just stupidly dance around to and have fun with it.

3. When The Curtain Falls

When The Curtain Falls: I actually had this song stuck in my head for the past few nights while trying to sleep, which was interesting. But this song is so fun. Just every aspect of this song, from the vocals to the guitar, to the drums, to the bass, perfectly melds together to create this masterpiece. Also, Jake does a sick guitar riff. Like I am blown away! Just so good.

4. Watching Over

Watching Over: We're slowing it down again. But it has a psychedelic feel to it. This song is much more serious than some of the other ones. The chorus really hits on the point how much we have ruined our planet, but we don't want to see it or fix it because many people are acting like it's fine. Kind of a deep and depressing song, but so relevant and thought provoking. A very interesting detail that I hope you hear when listening to this, it kind of freaked me out the first time I heard it, but during the part when Josh sings, "With the water rising" you can hear like a deeper voice singing it too. Perhaps it's the one watching over?

5. Lover, Leaver

Lover, Leaver: This song is one of my favorites. It reminds me of a 70s song because of the way the instruments come together. It gives a feeling of Woodstock and nostalgia. Furthermore, the lyrics are a fun play on words. For example, "Lover, leaver" sounds like "love her, leave her". I don't know if they meant for that to happen, but it just adds a bit extra to the song. The ending is mind boggling. Danny does an amazing job on those drums. I can only imagine how tiring it must be.

6. You're The One

You're The One: This song is just so cute and loving. Sam does a great job on the piano, which adds a lot of character to the song. It sounds like a song I've heard before, like this could be a cover to an older song, but I can't find anything about it. Obviously they've done a good job achieving that older sound if I think it sounds like an older song. This is a great song and I highly recommend this song if you want something a bit more relaxed and loving.

7. The New Day

The New Day: I love this song. It makes me feel so inspired to just go out and love people. The opening line, which is my favorite, just says it all, "Let the new day shine its light on me". What a powerful opening line! However, there's a line that says, "You're growing up I'll watch you bloom" but I always think he's saying "You're throwing up". I think that's just a "me problem", but it makes the song a bit funnier. Anyway, I feel like a flower child when I listen to this song, and that's all I want in life. I hope that this song inspires you too and that you wake up each day with a fresh start.

8. Mountain of the Sun

Mountain of the Sun: Another great song. This is an awesome song to listen to while hiking or just out and about. The opening guitar sounds so cool, and makes you feel like you're on a journey. Josh's voice is just so incredible, but it really shines in this song. Jake has an awesome riff in this song, and one of my favorite parts is when they use the tambourine. It's such a simple sound, but it adds another layer to this song.

9. Brave New World

Brave New World: This song is much darker than the others, in respect to both content and sound. This song again reflects on the damage that we have done to this earth, but a more social commentary on it. One of my favorite lines of the song is "kill fear, the power of lies For we will not be hypnotized" because fear is a powerful thing, and fear is a liar. It makes us believe lies that we tell ourselves or that we hear from others. Once you realize this, you will not give in to fear and you will know the truth. Again, Jake has an amazing rift near the end and Sam does some awesome things with the bass. They just kill it every time.

10. Anthem

Anthem: This song is personally one of my other favorites. It's one of their slower songs but it ties the whole album together since it is the "Anthem" of the Peaceful Army. The song talks about how there are so many problems in the world and everyone has different opinions, but we should "agree to disagree" on our opposing views and just love each other. This is a chill song. It almost has a tropical feel to it, so you feel so relaxed.

11. Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)

Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer): This is an extended version of "Lover, Leaver" and it is just as amazing. It's a bit longer because there is more of a rif in the middle. You get so much more from all of the members. You just have to listen to this song because they all just do such an amazing job making this song even more perfect, which I didn't even know was possible.

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