At the end of 2020, Tove Lo shot a film in her native Sweden called The Emigrants. For someone who has built her career on a foundation of grungy, gritty, experimental pop music, taking on a major role in a heavy drama was a new adventure, and one that required the often difficult process of sitting with herself. Tove Lo enlisted an acting coach to prepare for the role of an alcoholic sex worker, and, as anyone who has taken an acting class before can attest, the work of tapping into the emotions required for such a project is far from easy.
“I’d be digging into my past and darkness, and it was so heavy and uncomfortable,” she recalls, speaking with Consequence over the phone in late August. “I feel like I learned so much.”
When she wrapped the film two months later, she remembers physically itching in her skin with the need to get back to writing. Flexing this different creative muscle had encouraged her to get back to her primary art form of choice, and the resulting work arrives this Friday, October 14th.
Dirt Femme is Tove Lo’s fifth studio album, and her first as an independent artist, a factor she believes has come through in the final product. Writing and recording independently allowed her to dig into more artistic aspects of an album rollout — things she acknowledges might not “necessarily be profitable,” but which give her the space to provide insight into her work in ways she might not have been able to otherwise.
“It feels like the first time I’m putting out an album again,” she observes. “It feels weird to say that since I’m always so personal with my albums, but I feel like there’s an even deeper element to this one.”
Take “Suburbia,” for example; in the third track of Dirt Femme, she sings, “I never wanted babies, I know they’re kind of cute/ I never wanted marriage/ But here I am with you.” It’s the kind of confessional that could become a folk song with a different production spin, a first-person observation on unexpected circumstances in life that feels simply, ultimately human. On the aching “True Romance,” she taps into a sense of melodrama, asserting: “I’d die for love and loyalty.”