entertainment

Dua Lipa 'Future Nostalgia' review: 'Pop heaven in hellish times'

The UK’s ice-cool pop princess serves a slice of electro heaven during these hellish times

2020-03-26

Words: Thomas Stichbury

Climbing the walls? Having deep and meaningful conversations with yourself in the mirror? Losing track of time? Is it a weekday, the weekend, heck, Christmas?

Clamber on down for a second and step away from whatever existential crisis you are wading through as we have some bright and shiny news to share: Dua Lipa’s new album has been brought forward!

Yup, the music gods and goddesses have gifted us a slice of electro heaven during this hellish situation and we are eternally gratefully – as are our scratched-up walls (which look like they’ve been hosting cat orgies).

Arriving three years after the singer’s self-titled debut, Future Nostalgia avoids that all-too-common ailment, the “sophomore slump”, and is in fact the work of an artist at the very peak of their powers.

Over the course of 11 diamantine ditties, the record shimmies from the feel-good synth swirls of 70s disco to the crunchier, glitchier and harder beats of modern dance. It is a happy home for Dua’s deep-throated, husky vocals – she didn’t enrol at the “melisma-the-s***-out-of-that-note" school of music.

The thudding title track sets the bar for a collection of pumped-up tunes about empowerment, female badass-ery and the power of sex – when it’s on your terms. “I know you’re not used to a female alpha,” she purrs. “I can’t build you up if you’re not tough enough/I can’t teach a man how to wear his pants.”

Chart-topper Don’t Start Now, biting back at a meepy ex, and current smash Physical – giving us Olivia Newton-John vibes for the 21st century – remain killer cuts, although please ignore the latter’s call to action to get up close and personal. Maintain that two-metres' distance, hun!

Sweet, shimmery delight Cool has all the makings of a song of the summer as 24-year-old Dua turns up the heat about being in the throes of a hot romance: “Got me losing all my cool/Because I’m burning up on you.” We give it all the fire emojis.

On the flipside, Break My Heart, with its broody baseline and neat nod to INXS’s Need You Tonight, relives that familiar scenario of falling for a f*** boy you know is going to give you sleepless nights because your pillow is too wet from all the tears he's been making you cry.

More relatability is served on the fun, frank, almost Lily Allen-esque hook-up bop Good in Bed, about boning a dude who is bad news, but, well, his bone is just too damn tasty. “We don’t know how to talk, but damn we know how to f***,” she sings.

The album crescendos with pull-no-punches closer Boys Will Be Boys, as Dua takes aim at sexual harassment, double standards and what it is really like to be a woman.

Set against soaring strings, she begins: “It’s second nature to walk home before the sun goes down and put your keys between your knuckles when there’s boys around/Isn’t it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear when there’s nothing funny here?”

“I’m sure if there’s something that I can’t find the words to say/I know that there will be a man around to save the day/And that was sarcasm in case you need it mansplained,” Dua adds, with more than a hint of a snarl in her voice. “If you’re offended by this song, you’re clearly doing something wrong.”

Tear down the patriarchy! *finger snaps*

Giving us high-tempo, pristine, perfect pop, the UK’s ice-cool princess delivers a string of hits to dance the night away to – or in the current climate to, ahem, Lipa around the living room while video-calling your biatches.

Rating: 4.5/5

Future Nostalgia is out Friday 27 March.