Tove Styrke: ‘Sway’ Review

A musical tour-de-force has arrived

Tove Styrke has been at this for almost a decade. In 2009, aged 16, she competed on Swedish Idol (eventually placing third), putting out her debut single the following year. Since then there have been two albums of euphoric electropop; but if these first releases were an extended introduction to the star’s quirk-pop, ‘Sway’ is the one that’ll cement Styrke’s place as nouveau-pop royalty.

Crafted over the past 18 months, Styrke’s third album is a soundtrack to falling in love and navigating its complexities. From early crushes and drunken lust to romantic vulnerability, rejection and not knowing if it’s what you really want, ‘Sway’ encompasses it all. Fun and empathic, this is music to listen to with pals and bellow out of a car’s open window as much as it is music for a snotty, post-breakup cry.

Each of the eight tracks is expertly crafted. From album opener ‘Sway’ – where bold, staccato vocals cut through neon-bright production – to the sweet whispers on stripped back ‘On the Low’ (which Styrke described as “the heart” of the album), and her intuitive cover of Lorde’s ‘Liability’, this release shows off Styrke’s full range, both as a vocalist and as a song-writer. Equally at home on a made-for-radio chorus (dancehall infused ‘Say My Name’) as on the vocoder manipulated vocals of ‘I Lied’, you’re left with no doubt that Styrke’s is an force to be reckoned with. And then there’s ‘Mistakes’, the glorious musical equivalent of getting butterflies in your stomach. Shimmering, percussive production is punctuated by Styrke’s robotic vocals boldly declaring its mischievous chorus: “You make me wanna make mistakes.” It’s pure pop perfection.

Clocking in at just 26 minutes, ‘Sway’ is a succinct but comprehensive statement from Styrke – one that demands attention and declares her as a musical tour-de-force. The release of this album comes in between a string of dates with industry darling Lorde and this month’s shows with pop behemoth Katy Perry. Although Styrke is supporting them now, ‘Sway’ proves it won’t be long until she’s standing shoulder to shoulder with them.