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Disco triumph or pop fodder? Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia reviewed

Alex Green reviews the English-Kosovan singer’s second album.

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Dua Lipa (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Dua Lipa (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Dua Lipa (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Future Nostalgia is an album of two halves – but possibly not in the way Dua Lipa had hoped.

The English-Kosovan singer’s follow-up is a pop-tastic romp through her first loves: OutKast, No Doubt and classic disco.

On her self-titled debut, Lipa captured the zeitgeist like no other – borrowing millennial text-speak (IDGAF) and sending simple messages of female empowerment (New Rules).

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Future Nostalgia offers a more challenging prospect for fans and casual listeners alike.

The concept, if you can call it that, is a deep dive into the chintzy glamour of the 80s, channelled through the lens of today’s slick production.

The highs are high (Don’t Stop Now remains one of 2019’s finest jams) but the lows are frustratingly so.

Physical, the album’s second single, wouldn’t be out of place soundtracking Jane Fonda in the aerobics studio, but here it feels like little more than a misjudged parody.

Lipa, 24, is at her best when she drops the guise of nonchalant pop star and lets her personality shine, and the album’s best tracks are in its second half.

MTV Europe Music Awards 2019 – Show – Seville
Dua Lipa at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2019 (Ian West/PA)

If you can excuse the title, Good In Bed offers the warm charm of Lily Allen at her best, while Hallucinate revisits the grand production of her dance tracks with Calvin Harris and Martin Garrix.

Lipa is the hottest name in pop right now, and she knows it. On the album’s opener, from which it takes its name, she swaggers: “You want what now looks like, let me give you a taste.”

She has enough confidence to successfully pair the G-funk of Snoop Dogg and OutKast with a soaring chorus on Levitating.

Although she tackles heartbreak, new love and everything in between, those hoping for a candid glimpse into her relationship with Anwar Hadid will be left wanting.

Isle of Wight festival 2018 – Day 2
Nile Rodgers and Chic (David Jensen/PA)

Don’t Start Now, however, sounds raw and angry enough for us to assume she is documenting her split from model-cum-chef Isaac Carew.

Some might be disappointed that Lipa’s well-publicised studio sessions with Nile Rodgers of Chic didn’t make it on to the album.

But his influence runs deep, even if only through the presence of the funky basslines and jazz-fusion guitar he helped popularise.

Future Nostalgia may falter under the weight of its own ambition.

But no matter. Despite the album’s faults, it achieves what it set out to do: crown Dua Lipa as 2020’s Queen of Pop.

7/10

PA