‘Future Nostalgia’ is seamless combination of old and new

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Laasya Achanta

Dua Lipa released her sophomore album, Future Nostalgia, on Friday. A combination of both new and old sounds, it was preceded by lead single “Don’t Start Now”, her highest charting song in the U.S. to date.

By Anthony Cesario, Coppell High School

With the release of Future Nostalgia on Friday, Dua Lipa has done a full 180 on the term “sophomore slump” and created one of the best pop albums of the last decade.

Far surpassing the quality of her 2017 self-titled debut album, Future Nostalgia lives up perfectly to its title by recalling the glory of pre-2000s dance pop in a way that feels familiar, yet fresh and forward-thinking at the same time. It is everything a pop album should be — and more.

On Future Nostalgia, Lipa is totally in control. She is the “female alpha”, as she so proclaims on the confident title track. She glides from crisp, cowbell-infused disco (“Don’t Start Now”) to breezy, ‘80s balladry (“Cool”) to high-energy ‘90s house (“Hallucinate”) so effortlessly she makes it look easy.

Lipa pays an obvious homage to her inspirations on the album, but it never feels derivative. She channels Blondie in the chanted bridge of “Levitating”, a vintage-style anthem that compares falling in love to a road trip through space. And on album highlight “Physical” (the track that truly embodies the self-described ‘dancercise class’ feel of Future Nostalgia), she references Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 hit of the same name in the most grand way possible.

On two of the album’s best moments, Lipa also utilizes samples in a way that feels purposeful, drawing on nostalgic hits to create a unique soundscape of her own. “Love Again” is an uplifting disco track that takes on a futuristic vibe with its sample of White Town’s “Your Woman”, while the sample of INXS’s “Need You Tonight” on “Break My Heart” emphasizes the theme of a cyclical and self-destructive approach to love (but man, the song sure is fun).

The cohesiveness of Future Nostalgia is impressive, but there is just enough variety to keep the 37-minute runtime endlessly exciting. “Pretty Please” is refreshingly laid back compared to the rest of the album, while “Good In Bed” is quite the opposite — assertive, funky and in-your-face. The album concludes with “Boys Will Be Boys”, a cinematic, feminist ballad in which Lipa is joined by an orchestra and children’s choir as she claims mockingly, “I’m sure if there’s something that I can’t find the words to say / I know there will be a man around to save the day”.

Lipa is far from the first artist to draw from throwback sounds, but she succeeds in a way few others have by making an album that is truly memorable, that truly feels like her own. Not only does Future Nostalgia contain plenty of sonical and lyrical depth; it is also easily digestible and will have listeners pressing replay the moment it ends.

This is pop at its finest; the kind of quality artists spend their entire careers attempting to reach. Future Nostalgia will be hard to top, but if Lipa proves anything with this album, it is that she can defy expectations, and perhaps even become the pop princess few people ever expected her to be.

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on March 30, 2020.