With each album, Tove Lo finds increasingly stylish ways of presenting her unvarnished confessions. The contrast remains potent on BLUE LIPS, the companion piece to 2016's gritty Lady Wood, but where that album's haze reflected altered states of consciousness, this time Lo depicts the connection between lonely strangers -- and its aftermath -- with a clearer, crisper sound. She continues to riff on the persona she defined with "Habits (Stay High)," particularly on BLUE LIPS' first suite of songs, "LIGHT BEAMS." On "disco tits," she's on the prowl, setting her frank sexuality to shimmying beats and strobing synths that tap into '70s and '80s drama, territory she dives deeper into with "stranger" and the unapologetically queer "bitches." However, she remains a master of balancing boldness with vulnerability on songs such as "shivering gold" (which boasts the quintessentially Lo lyric "I'm out on the dancefloor/Drinking my tears"), "shedontknowbutsheknows," and "dont ask dont tell," all of which deliver a heady mix of mystery and potential danger. Similarly, Lo tempers BLUE LIPS' heartbreak beats on its second suite, "PITCH BLACK," where she looks back on her dysfunctional affair with fondness and surprising self-awareness; on an album full of dead-end love stories, "cycles" is one of the few songs that sounds truly romantic. Likewise, the hopeful melodies on "bad days" and "9th of october" hark back to the confessional pop that made Queen of the Clouds so well-rounded and appealing. On BLUE LIPS, Lo refines her unmistakable sounds and moods more satisfyingly than she did on Lady Wood, and transforms betrayal and denial into some of her finest songs.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares