Arts, Music, Review

Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’ is Pop’s Galactic Destiny

Future Nostalgia. Two opposing reflections on time: the uncertain and the romanticized past. Yet it’s this very juxtaposition that characterizes the music on Dua Lipa’s new sophomore album, titled as such. 

Layered with ’80s-inspired synth pop, elements of funk and disco, and lyrics that toy with imagery of simulations, levitation, and galaxies, Future Nostalgia is a fast-paced rendezvous fit for an otherworldly dance party. 

In the opening song on her album, the titular “Future Nostalgia,” the British and Kosovar-Albanian singer reintroduces herself to listeners. She upholds her girl-power bravado, admitting she’s a “female alpha.” But she also hints at what’s to come, singing that listeners “can’t handle [her] sound.”  

This song sets the tone for the rest of Lipa’s album, revealing her agenda when she sings, “You want a timeless song, I wanna change the game.” Showing off her cool and commanding demeanor, the title track emphasizes that Lipa wants her album to be a revolution for the pop genre. 

Future Nostalgia pushes pop’s boundaries, but especially on the three singles off the album—“Don’t Start Now,” “Physical,” and “Break My Heart”—which collectively tackle heartbreak, sex, and newfound love. Paired with equally elaborate music videos that blend animation and inventive cinematography, colorful costumes, and choreographed dance routines, Lipa presents a style in her music videos that is entirely original yet consistent with her sound.

Lipa’s affection for the ’80s is further embodied in her Let’s Get Physical Work Out Video, which features reinvented ’80s athleisure tropes: manga-inspired leotards, sweatbands, and leg warmers directly pulled from her merchandise line.

On Levitating,” Lipa channels the futuristic component of her album, comparing her new love, her “sugarboo,” with starlight, moonlight, and even the Milky Way. “If you wanna run away with me, I know a galaxy,” Lipa sings over dreamy, bubbly beats.

On Future Nostalgia, Lipa doesn’t leave much room to ruminate on past flings. Yet on “Love Again,” Lipa briefly laments a past heartbreak, before, “sink[ing] [her] teeth in disbelief” that she’s suddenly stumbled upon love once again. Beginning with a melancholic electronic violin, the song tricks listeners into thinking Lipa may finally slow down—if not to reminisce, then to at least grant dancers a chance to breathe—but it quickly picks up into a disco-infused melody.    

“Boys Will be Boys” makes for an unexpected clincher to Lipa’s album. The song counters the “Boys will be boys” saying with Lipa’s insistence that “Girls will be women.” Tackling a few of the trials that come with being a woman, she highlights her own experience, singing “It’s second nature to walk home before the sun goes down / And put your keys between your knuckles when there’s boys around.” Lipa expresses a message largely out of place alongside her collection of dance party anthems, but the track burnishes her female empowerment image.

The album, which was originally set to be released on April 3, was moved up to debut on Friday. On Monday, Lipa admitted in an emotional Instagram Live session that this decision was largely due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the level of uncertainty the world is facing. 

“I have been conflicted about putting music out, whether it is the right thing to do during this time, because lots of people are suffering,” Lipa said during the livestream.

In spite of the current pandemic, Lipa decided to move up the release of her album, hoping her music could offer some form of comfort to listeners. 

“I hope [the album] brings you some happiness,” she said. “And I hope it makes you smile, and I hope it makes you dance. I hope I make you proud.” 

Three years after the release of her self-titled debut album, Dua Lipa has generated a mass fan base, establishing her personal brand with electric colors and a two-toned hair style, newly complete with bleach blonde bangs. Her single “New Rules” confirmed her ascent into pop stardom and further heightened the anticipation surrounding the release of Future Nostalgia.

Lipa doesn’t fall short of the hype. Returning with synthesized beats and futuristic sounds, she exceeds all expectations, delivering the unpredictable. Caught up in the rush of infatuation, Lipa turns listeners into dancers and takes them to pop-infused galaxies far, far away. 

Featured Image by Warner Records

March 29, 2020

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