EP Review: Tove Lo – Truth Serum

Tove Lo Truth Serum EP Cover

Tove Lo launches strong debut EP

People who take a look at my blog frequently, already know that I foresee a great future for Swedish pop artist Tove Lo. I wrote an article about her when she released the great single ‘Out Of Mind’ and she was at the top of my list of most promising acts of 2014. Now is the time for her to prove that she is indeed one of the most exciting new artists out there. Last week, she released her first EP, called Truth Serum. It is an impressive collection of well written catchy pop tunes.

Tove Lo first got noticed on the web when she released her official debut single ‘Habits’. The combination of heartbreaking lyrics and an undeniably strong and catchy melody in the chorus turned out to be gold. ‘Habits’ was absolutely one of the best songs released last year. Tove showed how she was able to turn pure emotion into raw and honest lyrics. The follow up ‘Out Of Mind’ was a little less subtle and somewhat more of an in your face pop moment. The chorus is great and powerful and hits you in the face immediately. A week before the EP release, she launched a third single called ‘Not On Drugs’. Stylistically, this song is quite similar to ‘Out Of Mind’ as it has te same kind of powerful and catchy chorus. The verses however, are also very interesting and melodically captivating. The lyrics are once again great and Tove shows she is not a one-day-fly at all.

Other than these three singles, there are two more tracks on the EP, called ‘Paradise’ and ‘Over’. The first out of these two is her most uptempo moment so far. The rhythm of ‘Paradise’ is somewhat inspired by drum & bass and although it is not her best song to date, it definitely is a welcome change of pace. On ‘Over’ the big, soaring choruses and lyrics full of emotion are back. The chorus mostly consists of repeating the words ‘over’ and ‘sober’, but the best parts of the song are the pre-chorus where she asks herself the question if this is the part where she parts ways with her love interest forever and the middle eight, where she admits she would hate her partner too if he did to her what she just did to him. These very moments show Tove Lo’s biggest strengths: the ability to write great melodies and lyrics and being able to convincingly get across the story with her impressive vocals.

Video Review: Lana Del Rey – Tropico

lana del rey tropico cover

Lana Del Rey ends Born To Die era with epic short film

It is already two years ago that Lana Del Rey broke through with her worldwide hit ‘Video Games’. The singer rose to fame when she posted the video to that song on her YouTube account. A few months later she released the commercially very successful album Born To Die. Last year, she re-released the record as Born To Die: The Paradise Edition, with eight new tracks. Three of these tracks, ‘Body Electric’, ‘Gods And Monsters’ and ‘Bel Air’ now feature in the short film Tropico, an epic finale to Lana Del Rey’s incredible Born To Die era.

The lengthy campaign for her debut album is officially over with the release of Tropico and Lana and her team can look back at a very successful period with huge sales for the album, sold out tours and hit singles like ‘Video Games’, ‘Summertime Sadness’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Young & Beautiful’, the soundtrack for the movie The Great Gatsby. The visuals in Lana Del Rey’s work have been an important part in the campaign. She released some of the greatest music video’s in recent years like ‘Born To Die’, the lengthy video for ‘Ride’ and of course the gorgeous ‘National Anthem’, in which she plays the role of Jackie Kennedy.

Tropico is a short film of 25 minutes long, directed by Anthony Mandler (with whom she worked on ‘National Anthem’ and ‘Ride’ as well), which is divided in three parts that are all built around one of the songs. Of course, Del Rey plays the biggest part in the movie, together with albino model Shaun Ross, who is casted as her love interest. The film starts out with John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Jesus in the garden of Eden. This is of course a reference to the lyrics of ‘Body Electric’, where Lana sings “Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn’s my mother, Jesus is my bestest friend”. Lana herself plays Eve in the seductive environment of Eden and ‘Body Electric’ is the perfect soundtrack to this sequence. The visuals are stunning and the movements of Lana and her Adam go along perfectly with the song. The transition from the Eden part, completed with thunder and lightning, happens when Eve and Adam both taste the apple, which is linked to the next part where Del Rey is a stripper and her boyfriend a gang member.

This part is set in modern day Los Angeles and of course the song ‘Gods And Monsters’, absolutely one of the best things Lana has done so far, is used in this environment. While Del Rey works as a stripper, her boyfriend plans to rob a group of business men who just invited a group of naked female dancers to their party. Once again, the editing is brilliant when gunshots are completely synchronised with the beats of the music. Just like the video’s for ‘National Anthem’ and ‘Ride’, the transition from the second to the last part in ‘Tropico’, features a monologue by Del Rey. Although it is always a pleasure to listen to her lovely speaking voice, the monologues in her earlier video’s were sharper and more moving, where the Tropico speaking bits are a bit lengthy and vague at times. The last part sees Del Rey and Ross leave their sinful life and Los Angeles to go to a silent and peaceful landscape full of golden hills. On their way, they leave all their costly possessions behind them and change their clothes from black to white. In white, they dance and hug their way through the hills which delivers some stunning shots. It is absolutely the perfect visual to accompany the atmospheric and romantic sound of ‘Bel Air’.

I am not meaning to give an explanation for all that happens in Tropico, as I believe everybody could have an own interpretation for this piece that is rich in metaphors and symbolism. What I would like to add is that Del Rey is absolutely the only pop star that I could think of that has been so effectively creating great visuals to accompany her atmospheric and filmic music. She has had such a clear vision of what she wanted to tell with everything that had to do with this Born To Die chapter in her career, which is absolutely impressive. In my eyes, everything from the music to the videos and her cover art and other photo shoots, have been perfection. It is a great relief to hear that she is no longer planning to retire after Tropico, but announced she is working on her second album Ultraviolence. I am already beyond excited to see what she will come up with next.