The year was 2017.
Dua Lipa, an up-and-coming English singer-songwriter, released her self-titled debut album to much anticipation and hype, riding on the wave of expectations that made her out to be the next big pop sensation.
With tracks such as “New Rules” dominating the pop cultural zeitgeist via YouTube’s homepage, Lipa was quickly making a name for herself in the world, and what a name, indeed.
The year is now 2020, and Lipa is crying in front of a smartphone camera on Instagram Live.
That same English singer-songwriter who delivered the Platinum-selling album that adorned her name three years prior announces something nobody expected: her sophomore album, “Future Nostalgia,” will be released one week earlier than the original release date after finding out that the contents of “Future Nostalgia” leaked out.
Couple that scenario with the growing intensity of COVID-19’s grasp on the world stage and you have a recipe for … a lot of things, really. That recipe is not in the form of the funky dance party that Lipa intended, unfortunately.
Despite those intense conditions, “Future Nostalgia” is finally here, after many years of excitement and curiosity as to how Lipa could top the meteoric success of her debut effort.
“Future Nostalgia” is far different than what came before it – instead of an indie pop romp across multiple stylistic forms, Lipa decided to throw everyone for a loop: make a modern-day disco-era album that would not feel out of place at a Studio 54 late night party.
The titular track, which also serves as the album’s opener, is perfectly-produced and crafted to get the listener in the mood to dance. Funky bass lines and charming vocals carry the song to great heights, and Lipa’s accent gets a chance to shine in the spoken parts of the tune.
“I can’t teach a man how to wear his pants,” Lipa says with confidence, laughing as she stands her ground.
“Don’t Start Now,” the first single released for “Future Nostalgia,” is a tune that harkens back to a time where Chic dominated the radios and nightclubs of the world with infectious grooves and soulful melodies.
The single is greatly capable of getting stuck in your head for days on end, making the tune a real mood booster for those looking to get lost in a fit of dancing.
“Physical,” not to be confused with the Olivia Newton-John song of the same name that inspired Lipa’s, is a fast-paced, roller rink jam that is capable of transporting the listener into a high energy exercise class. This imagery is greatly helped by the music video, which bombards the viewer with a whirlwind of color – one that is beautifully dizzying, in a way.
Nearing the end of the album, songs such as “Hallucinate” and “Love Again” are stand out tracks on what is already a stand out helping of music.
“Hallucinate” is one of those mushy, lovey-dovey tunes that gets you thinking about your high school crush – or a romantic interest/partner of any sort – and how their existence alters your reality because you just adore them that much. This in mind, “Hallucinate” is a mid-tempo, bass heavy bop that is impossible not to rhythmically nod your head to.
“Love Again” acts as the opposite side of that coin – the song describes the feeling one gets when you meet someone who knows how to treat you just right to the point where love is a viable thing to believe in again. How that feeling is described sonically is through beautiful string instrumentation and Madonna-esque lyricism on Lipa’s part. It’s definitely a song that deserves a repeat or two, if not more.
The final tune, “Boys Will Be Boys,” acts as a scathing criticism and a dismissal on (and of) the titular phrase, despite being the shortest song on “Future Nostalgia.” Complete with a female choir, Lipa sings about the many dilemmas woman-identifying individuals face in the day-to-day, with mentions of keys between knuckles, going home while the light is still out, along with other things associated with the topic.
Lipa warns male-identifying listeners with this: “If you’re offended by this song / You’re clearly doing something wrong.”
“Future Nostalgia,” in spite of the obstacles that impeded its release, is a fantastic sophomore album and definitely conquers the “sophomore slump” that Lipa feared for all these years. The compilation is a versatile and beautifully produced piece of media that, much like the music Lipa took inspiration from, will stand the test of time for years to come.
If anything, “Future Nostalgia” is just the appetizer for Lipa’s massive, live dance parties, once this whole pandemic blows over.
Grade: A+ Did a full 180…and it paid off, crazily.