Dua Lipa first caught my attention with her dreamy pop track ‘Be the One’ however following her career since has been a mixed bag both in terms of quality and style. While dancier collaborations including ‘One Kiss’ with Calvin Harris and ‘Electricity’ with Silk City frequented my playlists, her other tracks didn’t provide a clear sense of artistic direction, often crossing awkwardly between pop and rnb. This makes the clear identity of her second album ‘Future Nostalgia’ a very pleasant surprise.
‘Don’t Start Now’ was a perfectly chosen first single which hinted at the heavier 80s influences unleashed later in the album. The stripped back piano, bass and strings work beautifully together and result in a dance track reminiscent of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. Similar elements are also successfully reproduced in the powerful track ‘Break My Heart’ which seems to build sense of funky chaos until the very last line.
The album’s opening title track ‘Future Nostalgia’ hits the 80s influences much harder, setting the tone for the album with synths over another heavy bass line. Accompanied by a fun VHS style video clip referencing modern statement architecture, the track is just that, a statement about the musical direction of the album and Dua Lipa more generally wanting to ‘change the game’.
The album may not be a game changer but it does successfully contribute to recent 80s dance revivalism. ‘Physical’ is the peak track in this regard bravely referencing Olivia Newton John’s smash hit of the same name all the while providing a sense of epicness from the first line. Heavy bass continues in this track while big vocals are allowed to shine phenomenally.
Other upbeat tracks like ‘Levitating’ and ‘Hallucinate’ feature some great guitar and excellent clean production that plays well with Dua’s vocal tricks. ‘Cool’ also features clean production however lacks the strong instrumentals to make this track particularly memorable. Heavier emphasis on the vocals in ‘Cool’ does however draw attention to Dua’s confident messaging, which is prevalent throughout the album. Dua walks listeners through romantic insecurities and thoughts on sexuality, particularly in tracks like ‘Pretty Please’ although the track is somewhat let down by the annoying repetitive chorus lyrics. The final track, ‘Boys will be Boys’ Dua takes on different gender standards however the messaging is dampened by the meta lyrics which feel like lazy writing.
Future Nostalgia is a great piece of 80s dancercise for 2020, featuring funky dance beats, clean production and great vocals. However the best aspect of ‘Future Nostalgia’ is the completeness of the album as a single piece of art. The musical tone and confident messaging is well defined and the album bodes very well for Dua Lipa’s future career.
An album I expect to one day be nostalgic about. I want to dance to the funkier tracks at 2 in the morning. Preferably at Toff on a night with a good crowd.