TRACK OF THE WEEK: Tove Styrke “Say My Name”

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photo by Emma Svensson

Maybe it’s the glacial run-off, but something in Sweden’s water seems to nurture brilliance in its female electro-pop singer-songwriters, from Robyn to Icona Pop to Tove Lo. The latest in a string of Swedish hitmakers to attempt a breakthrough in the United States shares a first name with the “Habits” singer; in fact, and she wants you to wear it out (it’s pronounced TOO-vah) on her latest single, “Say My Name.”

Swedish audiences first became familiar with Tove Styrke in 2009, when the singer was just sixteen and placed third on Swedish Idol. After releasing a high-octane self-titled LP in 2010, she reinvented herself for 2015’s Kiddo, favoring a more alt-pop approach and some definite feminist overtones. The album went platinum and earned her a Grammy nod in her home country, but with her first track since its release, Styrke makes a major bid for international success as well.

The minimal bounce of “Say My Name” certainly recalls The Knife’s “Heartbeats,” but blossoms quickly into an earworm in its own right with a plucky guitar line and a bombastic, beckoning bridge. When Styrke sings, “wear it out like a sweater that you love cause you can’t get enough,” she might as well be talking about the song itself; every element here seems primed to give listeners a major serotonin boost, much like discovering a new object of infatuation. Falling in love is a universal feeling that Stryke captures best with the line “You speak my lingo, we don’t need no translation;” with her track fostering a new obsession, we have to agree wholeheartedly.




The Swedish have always had a knack for pop, particularly of the electronic-dance variety.  There was of course ABBA, who pioneered the genre in the early ‘70s with the help of the synthesizer.  We all remember Ace Of Base, and if we don’t, our older sisters certainly do.  Of course Robyn and Lykke Li have been latest and most irresistible members of the Swede-pop invasion.  Recently we’ve been fed yet another confection from the land of dance: electro-pop trio NONONO.

NONONO consists of lead vocalist Stina Wappling along with producers Astma and Rockwell.  Wappling has an interesting history behind her.  Though she’s been writing songs her whole life, she studied to be a psychologist and spent time working at a mental institution.  If that’s not writing material, I don’t know what is.  It surely makes some sense of the emotive video accompanying the group’s big hit “Pumpin Blood,” the title track of their four song EP.

The video is full of cold tones and washed-out shots that bring to mind a bleak summer.  A couple violently disputes among broken ceramic mugs, deciding who will take care of their pet rabbit.  The verse is mellow and peppered with the high-pitched whistling that has made frequent appearances in folk-pop as of late.  The chorus jumps into optimistic, visceral dance pop, and the setting alters to the same mode.  The shots rangee from a man getting thistles caught in his winter sweater to a dark and smoking beachscape with strobe lights and Wappling dancing vivaciously.

By the its end, our bunny-toting protagonist has surrendered himself to the only form of catharsis appropriate for such a song: shameless public dancing.  I suspect fans of NONONO will partake in the same therapy while the group is on their upcoming U.S. tour.

See tour dates and the video for “Pumpin Blood” below.

04/03     Bijou Theatre – Knoxville, TN
04/04     Bellarmine University – Louisville, KY
04/05     University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH
04/08     Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
04/10     The Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA
04/13     Bourbon Theatre – Lincoln, NE
04/14     The Blue Note – Columbia, MO
04/16     Majestic Theatre – Madison, WI
04/17     Skyway Theatre – Minneapolis, MN
04/18     Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
04/19     Egyptian Room at Old National Centre – Indianapolis, IN
04/21     The Opera House – Toronto, ON
04/22     Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY
04/24     House of Blues – Boston, MA
04/26     Springfield College – Springfield, MA
04/27     The Dome at The Oakdale Theatre – Wallingford, CT
04/29     The Paramount – Huntington, NY
04/30     Starland Ballroom – Sayreville, NJ
05/06     Marquee Theatre – Tempe, AZ
05/07     Brooklyn Bowl – Las Vegas, NV
05/09     The Wiltern – Los Angeles, CA
05/10     The Fox Theater – Oakland, CA
05/11     Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
05/13     Knitting Factory – Reno, NV
05/15     In the Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
05/16     Ogden Theatre – Denver, CO