Review: DUA LIPA's "Future Nostalgia" Will Get You Dancing (While Celebrating Vulnerability)
When I learned that I could listen to my girl Dua Lipa's second album ahead of its release date, I was totally excited! As a big fan of this woman and her music, I've been waiting for her to drop the new album ever since she came out with her Grammy-winning hit "Electricity" with the duo Silk City back in 2018. I initially liked that she was moving towards a more 1980s-dance inspired vibe which definitely got me excited for what she had in store for all of us.
It's been 3 years since Dua Lipa released her self-titled debut album which gave us huge hits like "New Rules" and "IDGAF". And in her sophomore effort Future Nostalgia, she welcomes a new era of her music, preaching a fresh yet nostalgic sound. Without letting the pressures of creating a sophomore album get to her, she created a bold 11-piece collection of incredibly fun and sincere tracks that will make all of us wanna dance! Future Nostalgia shows us that the 24-year old artist has found her footing in the music scene and she isn't afraid to let her voice be heard.
When I first listened to the album, it immediately reminded me of 80s music yet it also sounded distinctly new - true to the album title's paradoxical nature. It was already obvious to me when I first heard the lead single "Don't Start Now" in November. I really LOST IT when I first heard that bassline kick in! It's reminiscent of 80s pop vibes yet fresh, the perfect song to introduce her sophomore album. This track gives us a glimpse of Dua's carefree attitude, making it known that she's "so moved on, it's scary."
Then came "Physical" which celebrates the 80s vibe more than any other track on the album. One of the things that really got me hooked on this song was the line "Let's get physical", an obvious nod to Olivia Newton-John's 1981 track of the same title. Dua even sings, “Baby, keep on dancing like you ain't got a choice," but I don't think she's given us much choice, really, because this high-energy track will transport all of us into an 80s dance party!
While a lot of the album is reminiscent of the 80s sound, the British artist made it a point to put her own modern twist to it. My personal favorite "Levitating" is the perfect example of that. "[Levitating] was kind of the first song that really helped shape the album...cause I felt like it really captured both 'future' and 'nostalgia' together," she shared in her recent Instagram live. With a smooth funky bassline and incredibly catchy beat, Dua Lipa sing-talks about dancing all night with the person you love, which is exactly what this track makes us want to do! Meanwhile, "Hallucinate" has the perfect balance of 80s music, pop, and EDM, giving us an instant dance staple that we can vibe to anytime, anywhere.
Throughout Future Nostalgia, the 2019 Grammy winner for Best New Artist is unafraid to speak her mind. It's absolutely one of my favorite things about her. She sports a confident attitude but isn't afraid to show her vulnerability. "Love Again" is one of the more dramatic tracks in the album and even features a beautiful string section. "Never have I ever met somebody like you / Used to be afraid of love and what it might do / But god damn, you got me in love again," she sings in the fun track. It's a clear manifestation of her feelings where she boasts both her beautiful low-register and her ability to hit high notes.
"Pretty Please" is also a little more stripped, with an infectious bassline and beat. This really allows her voice to shine through. It is very honest as she sings, "Hate when you leave me unattended / I miss ya / and I need your love." Here, she paints a picture of what it's like to long for someone's love and attention, a feeling that all of us can definitely identify with. Dua Lipa definitely hitting us where it hurts!
Displaying her vulnerability doesn't make these tracks any less vibrant. This is most apparent in "Break My Heart" which she described in her Instagram live as her forte, "dance-crying". In this groovy track, she talks about being happily in love yet wondering when everything will go wrong. It's a celebration of vulnerability rather than running away from it.
Dua Lipa also speaks her mind about the experience of being a woman in today's society. She flexes about her attitude and talent in the title track, "No matter what you do I'm gonna get it without ya / I know you ain't used to a female alpha," easily becoming an empowering anthem for all the boss babes out there!
On the flipside, "Boys Will Be Boys" is about the struggles of being a woman. She sings "It's second nature to walk home before the sun goes down / and to put your keys between your knuckles when there's boys around," a feeling that we, girls, totally identify with. She continues with "Boys will be boys / The girls will be women," pointing out that girls have to do a significant amount of growing up at an early age as compared to their male counterparts.
Given these themes, Future Nostalgia embodies everything I love about both pop music and Dua Lipa herself. This album was definitely worth the wait because it's fun, vibrant, bold, and relentless in making us want to dance, but not playing down the honesty, emotion, and even female empowerment. Future Nostalgia is pop perfection that will make you wanna dance the night away and enjoy each moment as it's happening in great 80s-inspired fashion!
Catch the release of Dua Lipa's sophomore album Future Nostalgia this Friday, March 27 on various streaming platforms. Major shoutout and thanks to Warner Music Philippines for letting me listen to the album before its release!