After a smash hit debut album, sophomore albums can be intimidating.
Dua Lipa had a lot to live up to after her self-titled album topped charts with singles like “New Rules” and “IDGAF.” With success like that, it would be easy to keep up similar songs to replicate the hype but Dua Lipa didn’t do that. On her new album “Future Nostalgia,” the style she developed on the first album is expanded as Lipa explores new sounds while also revisiting familiar sounds with a new twist.
The title track “Future Nostalgia” sounds exactly what the name suggests. The song sounds like a song that you’ve heard before but don’t know from where. Lipa’s talking/singing verse is a little off putting at first, emphasising her English accent but making the song seem even more familiar like a classic from the 80s. The funky bass and percussion heavy rhythm adds to the sense of nostalgia. As the song progresses into the prechorus Lipa’s voice transitions to her rich singing voice lifting the sound to carry it towards the chorus. The more husky and whisper tones Lipa puts on the chorus adds to the overall dynamic song that keeps the listener invested in the song. The lyrics call back to Lipa’s independent woman attitude off of her first album but feel more matured as she sings about leaving her mark on the music industry fighting against the big dogs.
Throughout the album, Lipa puts in a little touch of past decades music to bring out that nostalgia. Her song “Physical” can is best illustrated by an 80s themed night out looking for love. Lipa’s voice takes a huskier tone while maintaining a rich quality upping the sensual quality over a deep thumping beat. Her voice rides along the beat, occasionally overshadowed by a cymbal before everything cuts out with just Lipa’s voice giving the romantic invitation. The music suddenly picks up along with the mood of the song.
The funky style of bass persists through the entire album like with “Break My Heart.” In a break from all the high energy songs, the bass is subtle letting Lipa’s big voice shrink down to deliver a more nervous and softer emotion for the lyrics to hit right. Even when the song picks up in tempo and energy, Lipa’s voice remains vulnerable singing about her fears about this new relationship and where it could go.
Over the course of the album, Lipa experiments with the reto sounds in both the music but also in her voice. In “Cool,” her voice goes into a slightly higher register for the first verse and there are certain words her voice catches on, creating the effect of more emotion than the lyrics portray by themselves. The sparkling beat of “Hallucinate” emphasizes the slight husk of Lipa’s voice in the verses before it goes back up to a higher tone than usual for Lipa. When the beat drops back down, the music speeds up and Lipa’s smooth voice is back for the chorus.
“Future Nostalgia” is a great balance of an artist’s exploration in different styles while also giving those genres their own flare. From heavy funk of “Pretty Please” to classy brass of “Good in Bed” to the female commentary hidden behind a soft strumming beat with a bit of choir in “Boys Will Be Boys” this album demonstrates Lipa’s voice through the lens of different styles and a sign she’s further developing as an artist.