Tove Lo Explores the Intricacies of Her Femininity on Upcoming Fifth Album 'Dirt Femme'
Get ready to go from Sunshine Kitty to Dirt Femme. A new album from Tove Lo is on the way, Rolling Stone can exclusively announce — and the Swedish pop singer is ready to take listeners on a “beautiful, sexy journey” that explores the intricacies and nuances of her femininity. As she releases her ballad “True Romance” Tuesday, Lo reveals that she’s dropping her fifth studio album on her own record label as she breaks down what’s to come with the new era.
“It’s going to be a very beautiful visual and sonical journey. Is sonical even a word? No,” Lo tells Rolling Stone with a laugh. “I love to create worlds, and it’s definitely going to feel like you’re entering this new world of Dirt Femme.”
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After “feeling very empty” during the pandemic, Lo took time for introspection on “the 10-year whirlwind that has been my career and my life.” Having time away from the spotlight — after releasing her LP Sunshine Kitty the year prior — allowed her to analyze her music career but also her relationship with femininity as a “pansexual woman married to a straight man.” (Lo shared that she had married longtime partner Charlie Twaddle in 2020, and came out as bisexual in 2016.)
“I’ve looked back on how my femininity has helped and hurt me throughout my life,” she says. “And I think the album has that tone to it. I’m bringing up all these questions and feelings and emotions that don’t necessarily have answers to them. It’s just more my current place of wonder.”
In a statement about the LP, she adds, “I believe masculine and feminine lives on a spectrum in all humans. There are so many more interesting nuances than most people wanna accept. Songs on this album will contradict each other, will probably upset some of you, will make you wanna dance, cry, fuck, and drive your car really, really fast.”
Dirt Femme’s album artwork — which sees Lo wearing a metallic robot-scorpion stinger attached to her back and her vagina-inspired logo on the side of her hip — evokes that dramatic, visual effect in Lo’s storytelling. (It’s also a nod to her astrological sign.)
“I just love the fact that the female scorpion eats the male scorpion after mating,” she says with a giggle. “I’m in a very lovely relationship now where we have a good balance of crazy between us. But I get told that I draw people in and I consume them.”
“It’s really hard to explain it in words,” she adds when asked to describe the album and how it connects to its artwork. “I think when you see and hear it, it’ll make sense.” But part of that exploration into her femininity is featured on “Suburbia,” a track that she says will be “very touchy for some people.”
“It’s about never wanting marriage, not wanting children, and not feeling like that’s a life that I want. But then like, ‘What if I do?’ “ says Lo. “All of my friends around me have kids — babies are adorable and I’m so happy for my friends — but whenever I say ‘I still don’t know if I want kids,’ they take it so personally and get really offended by me saying that.”
She adds, “Having a kid is a personal choice, isn’t it? When you live in a very woke bubble that I’m in with my friends who live very different lives, it’s not a big deal. But as soon as I move slightly outside of that, there’s a judgment cloud if you choose not to have children.”
Also on the record are two songs featuring SG Lewis: “Call on Me” and “Pineapple Slice,” which she describes as “the ‘Disco Tits’ of this record.” (The Blue Lips song is a fan favorite.) “We just really click. I just love writing with him,” Lo says of Lewis. “Actually, ‘Pineapple Slice’ is a mix between ‘Bitches’ and ‘Disco Tits.’ The lyrics are very dirty, and over a really sexy beat.”
And there’s also “2 Die 4,” a track she recently performed during one-off shows in Los Angeles and New York City. The earworm is a nostalgic wet dream as it samples Crazy Frog’s 2005 reimagining of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn.”
I literally love this woman so much. Listen to the whole thing #tovelo #tove @Tove Lo #popmusic
♬ original sound – tomás mier
After releasing lead single “No One Dies From Love,” which featured a dance-ready Eighties feel, last month, Lo takes fans into unexplored territory with “True Romance,” which dropped Tuesday.
“As much I love a pop banger, it’s really fun to get to do something this dramatic,” she says about the song she recorded with her roommate, TimFromTheHouse, in a single take. “I wanted to make something that tells a story all the way through. That’s something you rarely see in pop music, and I feel like it’s fun to break sometimes.”
The song was inspired by Lo watching one of her favorite films, 1993’s Tarantino-scripted True Romance, and using some of the film’s plot points to tell a new story. “It started with this beautiful heartbeat pulse with these emotional swells. I was just improvising melodies,” she says. “It’s one of the most destructive, beautiful, overdramatic spins-out-of-control love stories.” “Take a life for me/You know I’d do it instantly/In danger of a true romance,” she sings on the raw track, which hears her voice crack and break at several points. “We are meant to be/I’d die for love and loyalty.”
“The last couple of years we just felt the presence of death in a really sad way, and that impacted me maybe a lot more than I thought it did,” she says. “There’s a lot of that, like, ‘What if all this just goes away? What if I lose this?’ on the album.”
The project is the first where Lo has complete creative control over every aspect of her music as she debuts the project under her own record label, Pretty Swede Records, after spending the majority of her career signed to Universal Music, “which did wonders for me.”
“It was crucial for me to break as an international artist from Sweden. It made it possible for me to build this incredible platform of amazing, dedicated fans that I now have,” she says. “But I’m so particular about how I want everything to look and feel and sound. I like to make these intricate stories that don’t help the algorithm and maybe aren’t the most commercial way to do pop releases and how you put out pop music.”
She adds, “I want to feel like I’m in full control of where to spend money, and also get most of the money. For someone who really likes to be in control and has a very particular way of doing this, I was lucky to have a label that was like, ‘We don’t really get what you do, but put it out.’ I was very lucky in that way, but I just felt like I want more control than that.”
Dirt Femme is out on October 14.
Dirt Femme tracklist:
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