Like her pals in Icona Pop – not to mention Robyn, Lykke Li, First Aid Kit and who knows how many more Swedish prodigies waiting in the wings – 26-year-old Tove Nilsson is a pop adept fond of big hooks and self-aware emoting. Yet for sheer sucker-punch verse-slinging, no one’s touching her, as showcased on this smartly produced arc-of-a-love-affair concept LP.
How is it that no one has built a perfect single around the enduring bon mot “I’m not on drugs, I’m just in love” until now (in “Not on Drugs”)? On the self-deprecating “Moments,” the singer asserts, “On good days, I am charming as fuck” over clattering samba flourishes, and “Like Em Young” flips its creepy title with helpful qualifiers (“young like me”) and snap-queen zingers (“Hey, girl, why you judging me/When your guy’s turning 53?”) over a dubby parade march. The beat-trampling word rush of “Timebomb” sounds like the Hold Steady reimagined by The Kick Inside-era Kate Bush; “Talking Body” finds T-Lo ramping up octaves and advising, “If you love me ri-i-ight/We fuck for li-i-ife.” And the tail-end signature hit, “Habits (Stay High),” spits pained quips over post-coital hurt like a dance-floor-targeted Lena Dunham production. Pop haters: It’s your loss.