While the world is currently falling at the seams, nostalgia and memory may be the only feelings we have in order for us to stay sane. We could be optimistic for the future, but that’s a difficult task considering much of it is bleak and unknown. For now, all we perceive is a lost sense of normalcy that can only be brought back if we physically separate ourselves from each other. Remnants of a social life are completely cut from the hierarchy of needs. All we have left is our own thoughts to ponder over for days.
I’m almost positive Dua Lipa wrote Future Nostalgia before shit hit the fan. The music associated with the artist’s second official album is fit for a disco rager; one in which physical contact is essential. The retro-funk tidbits and grandiose string arrangements radiate off the mix like a sleepless night drenched in glossy neon compositions. Lipa conquers the title’s oxymoronic portrayal with a fortitude that could bridge the literal gap between our quarantined world.
Future Nostalgia is catchy, inspired, well-crafted, and most importantly, self-aware of its power to obtain a spiritual connection with its listeners. Lipa is unapologetically fearless with her attempts to spark conversations about a lost connection with another human being. Her incessant one-liners are stark reminders of an individual’s power to overcome; particularly regarding the female gender.
The title track for example succeeds in capturing Lipa’s aggressive attitude towards a male who is knowingly conservative in his ideals. “No matter what you do, I’m gonna get it without you/I know you ain’t used to a female alpha” she sings in dreamy falsetto. Her voice beams off the funky bass-lines and rhythmic vocoder with the ethos of a Daft Punk single, and her words are as progressive as they are straightforward. “I can’t teach a man to wear pants” she philosophizes later on, consciously flipping outdated gender tropes on the side of its head.
Other points of the record showcase Lipa in a liberating tonality. By the time she’s done mulling over a failed relationship on “Don’t Start Now,” the London native is already ready for a new summertime adventure on “Cool.” “Physical” is a sensual piece of electric disco fit for a chaotic joyride in the year 2080. When the middle portion of the album reaches an atmospheric apex, Lipa has her foot firmly stationed on the pedal. There’s no slowing down in site.
“Levitating” is another high point on a record filled with raw adrenaline. The track, and the album as a whole, represents an artist who is undoubtedly confident in every move she makes, individually.
Even with a heavy 70s and 80s influence, Lipa has decisively found her niche as dancehall hedonist thanks to an expressive vision and euphoric instrumentals courtesy of longtime producers Jeff Bhasker and Ian Kirkpatrick (and some others too). The orchestrations become more complex on “Love Again” and “Hallucinate.” The strings are more ambitious, reflecting Lipa’s riveting vocal lines.
She offers a last bit of introspection on “Break My Heart” that almost contradicts a lot of her prior assurance (“Am I falling in love with the one that could break my heart/Oh no I was doing better alone/But when you said ‘Hello,’ I knew that was the end of it all”). The track acts in odd tandem with one of the few hiccups on Future Nostalgia-“Good in Bed,” a naive piece of shallowness that adds little to the album’s greater sophistication; not to mention the chorus is severely underwritten.
The finale “Boys Will be Boys” is a much better depiction of who Lipa is as an artist-genuinely charismatic and sassy while maintaining a passionate demeanor that thoroughly reflects her radical insinuations. Listeners are left with her infectious charm as she belts, “boys will be boys, but girls will be women.” She’s at her best when she’s challenging ancient mottos while the dance floor is fully packed. Not only does this record bring out the nostalgia many of us want to feel; but it also conquers a hopefulness for the future. One in which we’ll all be celebrating while feeling normal human emotions again.