Photo Credit: Hugo Comte
UK’s favorite “female alpha” Dua Lipa brings an enriching self-isolation dance party right to your front doorstep on the stimulating Future Nostalgia. The former fashion savvy model mostly exudes flawless bravado throughout the eleven-track LP, tailoring retro funk swing to suit her commanding attitude. Her impressive ode to the late 1980’s disco movement, deriving from a time when the HIV epidemic was raging, just as the COVID-19 global pandemic is right now, is apparent across the board. At a point when the world needed the most uplifting, disco provided it. Much as Future Nostalgia will now. Serving as the sophomore follow up to 2017’s New Rules (which garnered her first Grammy Award for Best New Artist last year) is packed with enough flavor for a perfect pick-me-up, jump start, or just something to smile about.
The album takes off with the welcoming disco banging title track “Future Nostalgia”, inviting you into her humble music abode where she assertively lets everyone know she’s used to calling all the shots. As the hook goes: “No matter what you do, I’m gonna get it without ya (hey, hey) // (Future nostalgia) // I know you ain’t used to a female alpha (no way, no way) // (Future nostalgia).” The early released singles “Break My Heart” and the valiant love themed dance song “Don’t Start Now” are fabulous indications of what the rest of Future Nostalgia has to offer. Such is the case on the powerful and energetically filled “Physical”, which sounds like it could have been on the classic 1989 Footloose soundtrack or easily have made the cut for Madonna’s Ray Of Light LP. The inviting sounds of “Levitating”, has the animated base thumping energy of a cardio dance routine that you could easily keep on repeat and sing along with. As she croons: “I got you, moonlight // You’re my starlight // I need you all night // Come on, dance with me // I’m levitating.”
Even though many of her lyrics are simplistic by nature, Lipa still pulls off the goal of “let me uplift you in my rebel way” and succeeds in remarkably convincing but not overindulging fashion throughout the project. Her moniker as the non-threatening feminine enforcer is the very thing that separates her style from a standard “pop princess” persona. Which is anything but typical, but works like a charm. Impressively, she keeps the consistent flow going with the charming and more reserved “Cool”, which is a bit less ambitious but still fits in nicely, as does the swank poppy sounding “Hallucinate.” However, the highlight of the project comes on the clever and catchy “Love Again”, which is inspiring and resounding enough to make even the hearts of most pessimists’ reconsider. Lipa shows a beautiful balance of confidence and vulnerability as she attests to learning to love again, and being comfortable enough with herself to embrace the possibility of it. She flows effortlessly along with the central tempo bassline: “Show me that heaven’s right here, baby // Touch me so I know I’m not crazy // Never have I ever met somebody like you // Used to be afraid of love and what it might do // But goddamn, you got me in love again.”
To date, much of the English singer’s type of artistic charisma has been compared to the likes of Kylie Minogue’s style of artistry and Lady Gaga’s sound. Although, it should be noted that respectively Lipa is not to be mistaken with either one of them, especially on this album. She is an evolved artist who is more defiant than extreme. Dua Lipa has become a bit more simplistic in her art by nature, but with the same amount of intentional energy. Nevertheless, with such strong intent, at times it causes her to misstep in an attempt to provide general cohesiveness. For instance, on the droning sounds of “Boys Will Be Boys”, her message is a bit oversaturated. The same can be said for “Pretty Please”, a girlish plea for intimate stress relief. Which while produced well enough, along with Lipa’s pitch point raspy vocals, the only problem is it’s contradictory nature. Because let’s face it, frankly, begging simply does not suit her style.
All in all, admittedly this has been one of the most enjoyable albums to review this year thus far. Not only because it is simply good music, but because of the quaint representation of joy and jubilance that it provides at a time when many people will need it the most. To be fair, very few artists are able to deliver universally perfect projects even in the span of their entire careers. But this one may come close. Fortunately, the few slight mishaps it does have, do nothing to slow down the signature enthusiasm and spirit catching momentum that Future Nostalgia provides right now.