Record Radar: Tove Styrke v. LANY

Columnist Kennedy Simone pits these artists against each other for MOVE’s first edition of ‘Record Radar.’

By Kennedy Simone | Aug. 26, 2015

Tags: Music Reviews

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Every week, MOVE chooses two albums to review and compare to ultimately choose which one sizzled and which one (possibly) sucked. This week’s lucky contestants? Tove Styrke, a 22-year-old Swedish dame signed to RCA Records, and LANY, a three-piece indie band based in Los Angeles. Read on to see what we thought about both albums.

Let’s start with Tove Styrke’s debut album “Kiddo.” If you want to be generic with adjectives, you can simply describe the album as electropop, but that’s way too boring of a descriptor. On first listen, I heard many artist influences and similarities: established pop artists such as Robyn, Annie and Florrie just to name a few. And don’t get me wrong, the artist similarity is definitely not a bad thing! Styrke holds her own and maintains her originality with an undeniable sense of je ne sais quoi and makes it work to her advantage.

“Kiddo” is a beautiful combination of fun, sincerity, energy and complexity that stands as a perfect audio symbol for youth. Songs like “Ego” and “Number One” serve as obvious summer anthems with dynamic beats and catchy choruses.

Production-wise, “Brag” is definitely a standout track. Within the song, Styrke sings about not being a show off when it comes to her amazing lifestyle (while subliminally bragging about her “sweet life” for almost four minutes). The song is simply good right until it reaches the 2:30 mark, the exact moment when “good” production became “amazing” production with the help of a smashing, looping and infectious beat that explodes into the lower-half of the track. This is by far one of the best songs on the album.

Moving on to the not-so-great tracks, I have to admit that there are few. Songs like “Snaren” and “Samarai Boy” are definitely not my favorites, but that doesn’t make them bad. Songs like these are more under the category of “love it or hate it.”

Now let’s discuss “I Loved You.” by LANY. Similar to “Kiddo,” this is also an electropop album, but “I Loved You.” holds a unique style of its own. “I Loved You.” is much more synth-heavy than “Kiddo.” Lyrically, it’s stronger than its competitor thanks to its use of less abstract rhymes. This is an album that you can relate to.

To be fair, the LANY album is not full-length, but rather an EP composed of five tracks. However, that’s not a disadvantage to LANY. The first two featured songs “4EVER!” and “youarefire” are strong tracks, with the former being deliciously up-tempo and the latter being an easy listening chillwave track.

However, “Someone Else” is the real highlight of the EP. This song is dripping early 2000s nostalgia. The steady tempo, chill synths and breathy vocals … it can easily cause you to flashback to your junior high dance memories (sans braces and now-questionable outfit choices). Lyrically, the song seems to be an apology for loving a certain someone and not being able to let them go. Seems heartbreaking, but it’s actually kind of heartwarming.

Unfortunately, this track is soon followed by “Bad Bad Bad (Matt DiMona Remix).” This song title is ironic, as it’s actually a perfect description of itself. Honestly, I’m not even trying to be funny. The song is bad. It sounds like it belongs on a Forever 21 store playlist. It’s cliché and unoriginal in the worst of ways, composed of the same house-influenced electronic beat I’ve heard on almost every song I’ve skipped on my Spotify radio. To give the track a fair shot, I listened to both the remix and the original mix … they both sucked. The quality of this song is absolutely nothing like the rest of LANY’s music. Trust me, that’s a good thing. Despite the major dud, “I Loved You.” is still very loveable.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a tie. Before you judge me for being indecisive, let me explain. After listening to both albums for an entire week, I still couldn’t pick just one winner! Both works have a standard listening mood with equal quality. “Kiddo” is great to listen to when you’re in the mood to hear something lively and exciting, while “I Loved You.” is perfect for chill and relaxed moments (i.e. online shopping on websites you can barely afford, simultaneously snacking and reblogging on Tumblr, etc.). You get the picture.

Sure, “I Loved You.” did have one song that REALLY sucked while “Kiddo” was quality work through and through, but realistically, there’s almost always going to be one song on an album that just doesn’t do it for you. And though it’s technically not a full-length album, I believe in the old saying of “quality over quantity.”

Bonus Play:

Song: White Iverson Artist: Post Malone

Let's skip the eloquence: This song is basic as hell. While the single may be killing it on the iTunes charts, really it's just a PARTYNEXTDOOR track from a newbie rapper. Post Malone's lines aren’t especially clever or original (i.e., “I got me some braids and I got me some hoes"), but he makes it work for him through his nonchalant delivery over low-key production. The only element missing from this song is a feature from the OVO team. A little high-profile assistance could keep Post Malone from being another one-hit-wonder (cough cough iLoveMakonnen). And even if Malone isn't here to stay, he's a white rapper who rocks gold teeth, cornrows and throwback jerseys. His novelty aspect alone could keep him around long enough to solidify a permanent status in the rap game. We're definitely interested in seeing how this plays out.

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