If there's one word to describe Tove Styrke's second album it's empowering. Opening track Ain't Got No... immediately struts in with more sass than a finger click, all stomping beats and electrifying synths. No wonder Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill provided some inspiration for the album title.
From there, 'Kiddo' consists of a number of feminist anthems. The album campaign began with the percussive and punk-influenced Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You; this was followed by EP 'Borderline', its title track a reggae infused song against the patriarchy ("I live my life in shackles but I'm borderline free"). That mindset certainly continues on the full album.
Best of all is lead single Ego: tropical beats and breezy synths underpin the yearning chorus lyric ("I wanna love you but you're making it impossible"), sung with breathy exasperation. This is more than just simple pop music.
It's this feminist attitude that sets Styrke apart from the usual Scandi-pop, with lyrics that are personal, candid and empowering. The production follows suit, with a strong reggae influence that distances her from most Swedish electro pop. Ain't Got No... and Snaren might begin the album in squelchy electro fashion, but tracks like Burn and Borderline almost sound like Rihanna tracks. Brag, meanwhile, is bright and syncopated in all the right ways, and Number One is a radio friendly slice of sunshine.
That's not to say Styrke can't do darker electro pop: the pulsing Samurai Boy or the evocative Who's Got News for instance. At times, though, 'Kiddo' doesn't quite feel stylistically cohesive and the feminist manifesto loses steam in its frothier moments.
Yet this album marks a fresh start for Styrke as she finally embarks on global success outside of her native Sweden. Judging by the strength of this album, she's certainly ready.
* Number One
Listen: 'Kiddo' is available now.