Album Anne-alysis: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa

Genre: Pop 
Year: 2020
Runtime: 37:17
Total Number of Tracks: 11
Songs you might know:
– “Don’t Start Now”
– “Physical”
– “Break My Heart”

My prior relationship with the album and artist: I remember really liking Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut, though I have trouble remembering specific songs from it. While she makes relatively generic pop music capitalizing on all the same trends as the rest of her peers, she’s pretty damn good at it! I even remember listening to other pop albums throughout 2019 and thinking “well, it’s good but that Dua Lipa album was better so if I’m ever craving this kind of sound, that’s what I’d go for.”

And so needless to say, I was excited to listen to her sophomore album, even though none of its preceding singles really swept me off my feet. I was still confident in Lipa’s ability to make a solid pop album, and I wasn’t disappointed.

 My impression this time around: I’m pleasantly surprised, and damn near shocked that an album like this is still holding my attention to the extent it is. With more run-of-the-mill pop albums, I often latch onto a few favorite tracks and forget most others, which is sort of what happened with the first Dua Lipa album. The fact that I’ve been feeling out Future Nostalgia for close to a month now and I still love listening to this thing beginning to end without skipping a track is a testament to its quality.

Oftentimes, dance pop is a genre where I end up saying “cool, but everything sounds the same” or “fun, but not interesting.” I bring this up because I love finding good examples of what I really wanted when I say stuff like that. Future Nostalgia fits that bill perfectly. I can point to this and say “see, pop albums don’t have to be boring and cliche.” I’d rather listen to to this album that’s only 37 minutes where every track is reaching a consistently high standard than a 50-60 minute album that eventually starts dragging because it’s recycling too many of its sounds.

I also love how well Dua Lipa executes here theme of “Future Nostalgia.” There’s subtle nods to the past, but never with too heavy a hand. I love the strings and disco vibe of “Love Again” and I love the ’80s synth vibe of the album’s opening title track. There’s so many places where I can say “huh, I hear the nostalgia” and yet that feels so effortless. Every track here feels contemporary, yet timeless. I like to think it’s the kind of thing I can listen to 10 years from now and and still love, though of course it’s hard to tell right now.

I also need to take a paragraph to praise the album’s final track, “Boys Will Be Boys.” While most of the album’s lyrics are pretty straightforward and exhibit the typical horniness of the genre, “Boys Will Be Boys” addresses sexism and rape culture. It’s so easy for people to misstep when they try to make pop music about politics, but not here. The music is somehow both eery enough to be appropriate for its darker lyrical material and yet there’s also something oddly empowering about it. There’s this strength in hearing a problem all women experience put into words. It’s the reminder that you’re not alone. It’s a song that gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it, and I love the decision to make it the album’s ending track. It helps elevate the album to a deeper, more mature place in a way that most dance tracks couldn’t. It would’ve been jarring to pivot to more fun, shallow lyrics right after, but that’s not a problem since this is our album finale.

Who would enjoy it? Anyone who likes pop music!

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