REVIEW: On 'Future Nostalgia' Dua Lipa soars high above her past work

2020-03-30 12:36
 
Dua Lipa


A lot of record labels have (or have tried to) push back to the release of their artists' new music following the outbreak of the coronavirus. Brick and mortar record stores are closed, and deliveries are happening less and less, so the chances of them making money the traditional way has decreased.

The other big money-spinner, touring, is also impossible in the time of Covid-19 because large gatherings are obviously out of the question, as are the usual means of promotion like chat show appearances. The cancellation of festivals like Glastonbury has also left that door closed for the rest of the year.

It's a scary time for all concerned because it means that everything is changing and the music that is still being released is under a microscope.

Enter Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia. This sophomore release from the British star is on a lot of pop music reviewers' lips this week because it's one of the few morsels we can hungrily devour. Its release even got pushed up, maybe in hopes that it might get some physical sales before large markets completely shut down, as South Africa has done.

And I am grateful for that reprieve because this brilliantly crafted disco-infused pop record is the burst of happiness that the world needs right now. Where a lot of artists falter on their second offering, Dua soars high above her contemporaries.

Future Nostalgia is a relentless up-tempo journey with a modern music star at the height of her powers. There are a lot of bangers on this record, from the opening title track to Levitating, which I really enjoy. It's that mix between crowd ready sing-along and intricate phrasing that gets stuck in your head for days.

A slower track like Pretty Please offers a little respite from the dancefloor but is just as good as what came before it. It gives you a slow dance option, but that break only lasts for a moment before the Bee Gees-sounding, Hallucinate. The chorus of this one reminds me of Staying Alive somehow, and that's an excellent thing.

LISTEN TO HALLUCINATE HERE:

What I love about listening to this record repeatedly is how you see that it's built for the streaming age. It's not one banger and then a lot of filler, you can press play at the start of a party, and it will give you precisely what you need to set the tone for a fun night. Of course, nowadays that party is pretty much solo, but hey dancing on your own is good for your health.

One of the smartest uses of a sample, and the best example of the thesis statement of this record – which I think is, making disco in 2020 – lies on Love Again. The track samples a song called My Woman by Lew Stone & the Monseigneur Band featuring Al Bowlly. You might know the song or the artist, but it will definitely remind you of a world gone by, coupled with the contemporary production and lyrics, make it perfect.

LISTEN TO LOVE AGAIN HERE:

What I also enjoy about Future Nostalgia is how it's a feminist record.

The best example of this is on the track Boys Will Be Boys, which addresses the inherent sexism in the phrase used as the title. Some of the lyrics are: "It's second nature to walk home before the sun goes down/And put your keys between your knuckles when there's boys around/Isn't it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear/When there's nothing funny here?" and the pointed line: "Boys will be, boys will be boys/But girls will be women."

LISTEN TO BOYS WILL BE BOYS HERE: 

It bookmarks the album which starts with Future Nostalgia. The post-chorus of which has the line: "No matter what you do, I'm gonna get it without ya (Hey, hey)/ I know you ain't used to a female alpha (No way, no way)."

Give this album a stream or buy it, you won't regret it. Whether it is the soundtrack to your dance party for one or cleaning the space that you're isolating in, it's perfect. Well done Dua Lipa and all the other people behind the boards on this album.

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