Universal (2014)

The latest chanteuse to emerge from the hotbed of electro-pop that is Scandinavia, Tove Lo has managed to stand out from the crowd by positioning herself as the kind of wild child you might be a little reluctant to take home to mum–a reputation which will only continue to grow with her debut album, Queen of the Clouds.

The Stockholm singer is currently riding high in the U.S. Top 20 with “Habits (Stay High),” an ode to drowning your sorrows in the wake of a break-up, which opens with the line “I eat my dinner in my bathtub/Then I go to sex clubs.” But it’s far from the only confessional tale of debauchery on a three-part record which makes the car crashing hedonism of her one-time collaborators Icona Pop look relatively tame in comparison.

The playful Rihanna-esque opener “Like Em Young” and the stomping bedroom jam of “Talking Body” certainly leave little to the imagination, while “Moments,” a tongue-in-cheek love song which recalls the retro 80s-pop of Haim, sees Tove Lo brazenly declare that “I might get a little drunk… but on good days I am charming as f**k.”

Although not everyone will agree with her foul-mouthed claims, particularly the parents in the crowd during her forthcoming support slot on Katy Perry’s tour, Queen of the Clouds’ devil-may-care attitude is certainly made more palatable by the big shiny choruses and effervescent production which surrounds it.

Indeed, having previously penned tracks for the likes of Girls Aloud and Cher Lloyd, the 26-year-old sure knows her way around a catchy pop melody. The fast-paced stream-of-consciousness electro of “Timebomb,” the brooding Drake-esque R&B of “The Way That I Am” and the shimmering Italo house of closer “Run On Love” all suggest Lo should have little trouble in avoiding the dreaded one-hit wonder status.

An album full of heartache and hangovers, Queen of the Clouds is a refreshingly raw debut which casts Tove Lo as pop’s premier hot mess.

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