The month of February, with its overload of flowers, candy and everything heart-shaped, is an annual celebration of that warm, fuzzy feeling we call love.
But if you aren’t in a steady relationship or even stuck in a toxic one, Swedish pop singer Zara Larsson ’s latest album “Venus” might be exactly what you need.
“Venus” is a fourth record for Larsson, showcasing a more emotional and daring side of her talents, diving deeper into who she is and where she comes from atop her characteristic Europop sound.
It begins with the album artwork: Larsson is nude — vulnerable and powerful — with a visible tattoo of the letter “H” on her ribcage for her sister, Hannah. The singer is posed to recreate Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” painting, her modesty protected only by her long golden hair and a pink chrome seashell.
And just like the messaging behind the famous work, Larsson’s latest album feels like a rebirth and a celebration of beauty, as though she takes the role of wise older sister for all her fans looking for a romantic resurrection of their own.
The first track, The Weeknd -channeling synth pop of “Can’t Tame Her,” establishes that Larsson’s album is not simply preoccupied with heartbreak — rather, there is very little time left to cry when you are dancing the night away.
“So if she wants to party all night/No you can’t tame her no/ And you can’t tie her down/When the night comes around,” she sings over an upbeat melody.
On “On My Love,” the artist is joined once again by EDM giant David Guetta. The duo previously collaborated in 2016 with “This One’s for You,” the anthem for the UEFA European Football Championship that year.
The 2010s Europop throwback track is about adoration. “Into the dark, into the light/Baby I go/Whether it’s wrong, whether it’s right/I will follow,” Larsson sings, in a romantic song sweetly dedicated to her own ride-or-die, Hannah.
From one type of love to another, the Rihanna-esque slow burn “Ammunition” tells the story of a destructive relationship. In the cheery chant-a-long “You Love Who You Love,” Larsson tells a friend to give up a man that brings her down.
Even then, Larsson never stops the dance party: the advice is delivered atop a cheeky pop melody, stuck between funky production and steady percussion. Clearly, Larsson knows how to pair hard truths with joyful music.
AP music reviews: https://apnews.com/hub/music-reviews