Three years after her self-titled debut album, Dua Lipa emerges with Future Nostalgia. It’s the sound that current pop artists have been trying to invent for years. The album, which was released on March 27, is heavily influenced by the 80s disco and new wave along with the late 90s/early 2000s pop and electronica.
In her past interview with JustJared, she explained that the album “could sit alongside some of [her] favorite classic pop songs, whilst still feeling fresh and uniquely [hers]… something that felt nostalgic but had something futuristic about it too.”
The first three singles hint the 80s disco nuance with heavy synth tabs. Don’t Start Now is lyrically a follow-up to her New Rules, talking about blatantly moving on from an ex. Physical is a modern take on Flashdance sounds with “Let’s get physical” chant that resembles Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 smash hit of the same name. Break My Heart features a catchy bass riff which samples INXS’ Need You Tonight. The song is co-written by Ali Tamposi and Andrew Watt. (These two helped create Camila Cabello’s Havana and Señorita as well as 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood and Lie to Me.)
Later on, Dua pays a proper tribute to Madonna on Hallucinate. With major deep house and electropop production, the song echoes the veteran singer’s 2005 Confessions on a Dance Floor. It especially reminds you of Madonna classics such as Get Together and Future Lover.
The melody of Dua’s Hallucinate is also quite a reminiscence of Frozen. Still, it doesn’t sound outdated. This is due to its lively tempo and relatable sassy lyrics that address one’s foolishness towards their crush.
Love Again is a treacly song about embracing unexpected love after finally finding that right someone. She reminds herself of what she feels by singing, “But god damn, you got me in love again” atop White Town’s version of Al Bowlly’s muted trumpet line from 1932, My Woman. The addition of bass strums and kick drums throughout the chorus gives this track a present-day feeling.
Blondie’s footprint is evident across the album, with frequent features of bass and combination of actual drum play and drum machine. However, the most apparent one is on Cool. This song might be the least pop on the album, having the band-like complexion with more live-sounding instruments. However, it has a Gwen Stefani impression that makes it fit the rest of the LP. A similar effort is applied to Good in Bed and Pretty Please.
Finally, Boys Will Be Boys is the perfect closure for the album with its ironically truthful downtempo ambiance. The sound is accompanied by a simple orchestral arrangement of pizzicato, violin, and piano. The production progresses along the way, becoming more grande until the climax at the end. This gives the album a triumphant ending as Dua Lipa repeatedly vocalizes, “Boys will be boys but girls will be women.”
Future Nostalgia brings back the spark that pop has been losing for a while. By looking up to her female musical inspirations, Dua Lipa succeeds in giving her fans something new, distinctive, and original without losing her sultry dark pop identity. Personally, I believe that this album might define Dua Lipa as one of the greatest pop stars of this generation.