(Revised, first published in The Bison student newspaper [INSERT DATE HERE])
Dua Lipa’s second album, “Future Nostalgia” bookends a dance party invite with social commentary.
The album’s opening title track firmly establishes the hallmarks that define the album: electronic vintage dance beats; self-confidant, playful – if a bit simplistic – words; and a vocal line floating with the same careless ease as the dancing featured in Lipa’s music videos.
However, unlike most of the rest of the album, “Future Nostalgia” does not discuss relationships. The song – lyrically at least – is a fairly typical feminist self-empowerment anthem.
The message is extremely unapologetic. “I can’t teach a man how to wear his pants,” she sings, brushing off the idea of worrying about other’s finding her too demanding or bossy.
“No matter what you do I’m gonna get it without you / I know you ain’t used to a female alpha,” Lipa declares, as the upbeat funky rhythm and airy vocals soften the directness of her words.
The musical tone of the piece dances off laughing before listeners have time to object to the bluntness of its theme.
It is in the second track that Lipa shifts focus to romantic and relationship themes, as she introduces a bass drop trend that will define not only “Don’t Start Now” but most of the rest of the album.
“If you don’t wanna see me dancing with somebody / […] / Don’t show up / Don’t come out,” she sings.
Although the lyrics are sobering (“Walk away / You know how”), the upbeat tempo and mood doesn’t allow for self-pity.
The album caries straight onward, as rhythmic momentum takes it rapidly through a series of fairly similar lighthearted party tunes celebrating physical attraction including “Cool,” “Physical,” “Pretty Please,” “Hallucinate,” and “Levitating.”
“I feel like we’re forever / every time we get together / but whatever. / Let’s get lost on Mars,” Lipa sings in “Levitating.”
The playful word patterns that Lipa’s voice paints are on full display here and the bridge forms a Nicki-Minaj-like rap pattern.
The romantic lyrics, although rhythmically clever, let the album down from its full potential – achieving insight and uniqueness only in short bursts.
The album holds a secret gem hidden in its center.
“Love Again,” the eighth track, opens with vintage radio style strings and its subject moves beyond mere physical attraction.
“I never knew I had it in me to dance anymore / but g–d—- / you’ve got me in love again,” Lipa’s vocals rejoice.
The song is a full-scale unashamed celebration of new love, replicating a lover’s joy – joy that just can’t stand still – in its dancing rhythm.
“Never have I ever met somebody like you / used to be afraid of love and what it might do,” she sings.
The album turns more somber lyrically – although not musically – with “Break My Heart,” as the singer asks herself, “Am I falling in love with the one that could break my heart?”
Lipa explores – albeit gently – the more dangerous side of attraction in “Good in Bed.”
The piece is as “no-filter” as the title suggests, describing a relationship defined by poor communication.
“We don’t know how to talk / but d— we know how to f—,” Lipa sings.
Word repetitions and a silly effect replacing a word at the closure of each chorus keepit as cheery as the rest of the album.
“We drive each other mad, mad, mad, mad,” she sings.
Its position before “Boys Will Be Boys,” underscores the potential dark side of male-female relationships, aligning toxic relationships right next to toxic masculinity.
“Isn’t it funny how we laugh it off to hide our fear? / When there’s nothing funny here,” the closing song challenges, delivered by Lipa in a deceptively cheerful voice.
“Boys Will Be Boys,” calls for listeners to consider the way current Western culture transmits sexist and toxic attitudes to following generations.
“The kids ain’t alright,” Lipa’s lyrics warn.
Refreshingly confrontational, the closing track demands a response from its listeners.
“If you’re offended by this song / you’re clearly doing something wrong,” it says.
Lipa’s chorus points out the contrast in the way children are raised.
“Boys will be boys / but girls will be women,” she sings.
The lyrics reflect popular phrases that tend to teach girls that they should accept immature behavior from boys, even when the “boys” in question are grown men who should know better.
Lipa’s stance on the matter is clear: she’s done with that garbage.
The feministic subject matter in “Boy’s will be Boys” brings the album full circle – back to the themes of the opening track.
As a whole, the “Future Nostalgia” album sandwiches dancing and romance in between two hearty slices of reality.
Lipa’s second album buries glimpses of honesty in its heavy dose of fast tempo of fun.