The first I heard of Tove Styrke was in the release of ‘Say My Name’ last April. Since then, I have been under her spell and following her every move, including the release of her third album Sway which has been highly anticipated after over a year’s worth of build-up. Although this is Styrke’s third album, I am inclined to regard this as her first as a well-rounded and sophisticated musician. ‘Sway’ is a masterclass in exciting and unpredictable pop production and Styrke knows when to keep the work sparse and when to give it everything in a maximalist flourish. And with Robyn still lying dormant, she could just be Sweden’s finest current pop offering.
The clear high point of the album is ‘Mistakes’ which encapsulates the tightrope walk between the regret of being with someone who’s probably bad news but who is also the person you cannot stop thinking about. The feelings which Tove Styrke writes about are decidedly relatable and although she doesn’t offer much new insight emotionally, the production is so innovative that you can’t help but see past this. The brief pauses scattered throughout the album reflect Styrke’s attempt to restrain a rush of emotions and then fails miserably – it works and is extremely effective.
‘Sway’ is a masterclass in exciting and unpredictable pop production
Possibly the most relatable song of the album comes near the end with ‘I Lied’. The verses give a care-free perspective of a relationship but the choruses completely invert this. It’s the classic story of telling people that you don’t want anything too serious from a relationship when in reality they are all you can think about and you don’t just want to be fling. It’s something which I’m sure we’ve all experienced looking at our friends who are suddenly spending more than the occasional night with someone who ‘wasn’t anything serious’. That’s just the charm of Sway. It feels exciting and makes you feel excited. There is hopeful opportunity and anticipation for the future of a youthful relationship.
Then comes ‘Liability (Demo)’ – a Lorde cover from her 2017 masterpiece Melodrama. I don’t think that this has any business on the album and being the last song on the record, it stings twice as hard. Lorde distinct and strict creative voice means that covers cower in comparison by the sheer lack of depth of the original. Tove Styrke does not bring the emotional gravitas to ‘Liability’ which it requires. It feels inorganic to end an album about the youthful excitement of a relationship with a song about self-doubt and a break-up. Whilst the lyrics do still bring me chills, this says far more about the quality of the original than the cover. The album is undeniably stronger without it.
Sway is sure to be the soundtrack of the summer has me looking forward to Tove Styrke’s future releases. Let’s just leave the heartbreaks to Lorde.