Tove Styrke — Kiddo (June 8, 2015)Ψ• Tove Stryke’s second album further cements her reputation as one of the most promising new pop stars to emerge out of Sweden. Like Lykke Li before her, Tove Stryke creates music both intelligent and adventurous. Crafting huge pop hooks and catchy refrains with casual nonchalance, there's still a sense of striving — and she delivers more than just throwaway chart music. Single "Ego" has a true earworm of a chorus, while the deadpan vocal delivery and nuanced production create an appealing air of detached cool. Tove Stryke has struck upon a sound that is addictive, clever and accessible.Birth name: Tove Anna Linnéa Östman Styrke
Born: 19 November 1992
Origin: Umeå, Sweden
Genres: Electropop, indie pop
Location: Umeå, Sweden
Album release: June 8, 2015
Record Label: RCA
01. Ain’t Got No… 3:54
02. Snaren 3:03
03. Ego 3:49
04. Samurai Boy 3:28
05. Borderline 3:23
06. Who’s Got News 3:36
07. Number One 3:25
08. Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking to You 3:05
09. Burn 3:41
10. Decay 4:06
11. Walking a Line 3:51
12. Brag 3:52
℗ 2015 Sony Music Entertainment Sweden ABΨ• With a title like Kiddo, you might expect this LP to be Tove Styrke’s first. In fact, it’s her second effort — her eponymous debut was released in 2010, which came off the back of her stint in Swedish Pop Idol. As you might expect, even when Sweden does manufactured bubble–gum pop, it’s still some how effortlessly cool — not many veterans of British Pop Idol have the chance to work on their debut LP with Lykke Li.
Ψ• Since then, Tove has returned with a perfect cocktail of electro–pop: the exuberance of Annie; the surreality of Yelle; the expansiveness of St Lucia (and a falsetto to match FKA Twigs). “Ain’t Got No” crystallises Styrke’s brassy showmanship and self–assuredness. Flashes of organ, audacious brass and bass line with as much attitude as Tove herself set the tone for what’s to come. “Snaren” is Styrke’s party track. Its domineering synth hook, with Styrke softly spitting threats over the top — “you gon’ be hit alright” — and brazen Beyoncé interpolations (“to the left, to the left”) makes this track a straight–up bid to compete with the best of synth–pop. Not quite as ambitious as Robyn’s version of “Cobrastyle”, admittedly, but it’s not too wide of the mark.
Ψ• “Borderline” is slice of (slightly melancholy) reggae–infused pop. It nestles right up against the likes of Wild Belle and their easy–going brand of sunshine pop. “Samurai Boy” and “Walking The Line” provide fairly innocuous moments — but this is more than counteracted by Styrke’s ability to deliver blistering putdowns, a skill which is put to good use in this LP.
Ψ• The wistful flutes and Styrke’s beguiling laugh draw you into “Brag” — a manifesto of her own awesomeness, delivered under a guise of false modesty. She doesn’t brag… but, her life is the shit, yeah? “Ego” is a rebuke for that person in your life who absolutely refuses to get over themselves.
Ψ• The boldest, brassiest, sassiest put–down of them all arrives in “Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You”. Again, this is one for all the narcissists out there — you know who you are, you’ve a got a “true, mad, deep big crush on yourself”.
Ψ• Styrke is unapologetic in her out–and–out wilful decision to give precisely zero shits about such self–involved behaviour — “if you do shit like that I don’t need to be nice”. That’s that, then.
Ψ• As its name implies, Kiddo is deliberately attempt at naivety. At the centre of the LP lies an exuberant brashness, a heady youthfulness. It’s contrived, sure. But that’s no bad thing. High art Kiddo is not. Great fun, it definitely is.
Nolan Feeney @NolanFeeney June 9, 2015
Ψ• Smashing the patriarchy sounds like a blast on the Swedish singer's new album
Ψ• Call it the curious case of Tove Styrke. While plenty of former teen pop stars grow up by getting blonder, flashing more skin and proclaiming their newfound maturity (a sign of changing tastes, sure, but also savvy marketing), this Swedish singer-songwriter is doing it Benjamin Button–style on her new album Kiddo, her first LP in five years and her debut U.S. full–length. The 22–year–old looks much younger on its cover than she did in the years following her breakthrough on Swedish Idol as a 16–year–old. No longer is she rocking platinum locks, strutting across stages relatively pantsless or begging a lover to “fuck my brains out” in a song that’d give the raunchier Tove Lo a run for her money. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find her, as she was at a recent New York City show, performing in oversized red basketball shorts and a matching baseball cap, singing spunky, island–inflected songs a world apart from the weapons–grade electropop she’s left behind. (May “Call My Name” rest in peace alongside Sky Ferreira’s similarly stellar yet disowned “One.”)
Ψ• Maybe that unusual career trajectory is just because she’s from another country, distanced from whatever forces transform Miley Cyrus from Hannah Montana into a twerking, tongue–wagging avatar of American cultural anxiety and construction–site menace. The more likely scenario? There’s nothing accidental about the way Styrke presents herself this time around. From the pop–culture references and winks at famous divas that pepper the record, you get the sense Styrke has less in common with the artists being consumed and more with the audiences doing the consuming — and she prefers it this way.
Ψ• Take for instance “Snaren,” a clever curtain call for dudes cramping your personal space that quotes Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and moments later shouts–out Queen Bey herself. It’s a more telling introduction than the seesawing power–tool thump of album opener “Ain’t Got No…,” as Kiddo may be the most explicitly feminist pop album to emerge since Beyoncé broke down the concept on her 2013 surprise opus. Beyoncé’s music makes big, bold statements from the top about girl power, relationships and income inequality, but Styrke’s focus is more personal, chronicling with the enthusiasm of a sociology major what it’s like to find your voice as a woman when the deck is stacked against you. For her, growing up isn’t about updating your brand. It’s like surviving a war zone.Ψ• Her self–described protest song “Borderline” is literally about burning down the patriarchy (and one of five songs here returning from last fall’s Borderline EP). In a an adopted patois over clanging reggae guitars, Styrke describes waking up from society’s brainwashing and rebelling against the men of the “empire” that try to put her in a box. “I’m borderline happy and I’m borderline sad, I’m borderline good and I’m borderline bad,” she sings. It’s an appropriate summary for the record: part of what makes Kiddo a rich coming of age album is the way it’s brimming with personality, with Styrke alternatingly sarcastic, pensive, angry, elated, cocky and cheeky over songs as musically diverse as their emotions. That idea of how a woman “should” be (and who gets to decide) is also one she revisits on the punchy “Walking a Line,” one of a few of occasions on Kiddo where Styrke laughs sexism in the face with a little ironic misandry.
Ψ• It’s no secret that Sweden makes the best pop music — stop me if you’ve heard this one before. But unlike her peers, Styrke forgoes the club for something more playful, drawing on a palette of global sounds and occasionally busting out some juvenile, rap–like rhymes instead of traditional melodies. Sometimes there’s no larger message: “Ego” is Kiddo’s most straightforward pop song as well as its most infectious, though her relaxed high notes in the chorus betray just how forceful a hook she’s written. (One consequence of eschewing powerhouse dance tracks is that she doesn’t always sink her teeth into a song the way you wish she would.) Other times her message gets lost as she distills her ideas down to a pop–song format, like the twinkling closer “Brag,” which doesn’t read as the social media commentary she intended. Still, more often than not this approach lets her sneak big ideas into her music.
Ψ• “I know you feel that pop doesn’t really have a clue,” she shouts on the convulsive “Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking to You,” which is sort of like if Gwen Stefani’s high–school fantasy “Hollaback Girl” was done by a foreign exchange student who just discovered 5–Hour Energy. But the song, which Styrke explains is both “a shocking pink fuck–you to all the people who think their penis bands are automatically more talented than one twenty–something girl on stage” and a call to claim male–dominated spaces, proves her transgressor wrong in barely three minutes. Rockism, male privilege, double standards — that’s a hell of a lot to work into an already chaotically busy pop song without sounding heavy–handed. But the most refreshing thing about Kiddo is its reminder that there needn’t be a choice between earworms and and a message. She may not be talking to you with the latter, but you’d be wise to listen anyway. Ψ• http://time.com/
By: Brennan Carley // June 8, 2015; Score: 8
BY MICHIELVMUSIC, POSTED ON JUNE 12, 2015
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