In 2020, I didn’t have the energy to write about music at all, even when I really wanted to. As such, I will be posting reviews of my favorite albums of last year — approximately as the anniversary of their release approaches — to allow myself to capture what made me love them so much. Here is the third!
“You want a timeless song/I wanna change the game” are the first lyrics uttered by Dua Lipa on her sophomore record, Future Nostalgia, and listeners were not prepared for the singer to do just that. Over the course of a tight eleven tracks (practically half the length of most major-label releases) the singer sheds every preconceived notion the world had about her music thus far, unleashing an onslaught of empowerment, dance, and positivity— a far cry from the “sad bops” of her self-titled debut that Lipa felt restricted by — when the world needed it most.
The album opens and closes with its weakest moments; the title track, a fun little ode to owning your success that falls flat with silly lines about being a “female alpha,” and “Boys Will Be Boys,” a gospel-lite (choir and everything!) sermon about the double standards placed on women by society. While both deal in necessary conversations about gender politics, they lack the nuance the rest of the record provides in spades.
Thankfully, second track and lead single “Don’t Start Now” steers us back on course with its infectious, spoken-word chorus and campy cowbell. From there, the album plays through an impressive run of straight bangers, from the Tove Lo-cowrite “Cool,” the juggernaut of a single — and my favorite song of 2020 — “Physical,” the sensual and cascading “Pretty Please,” “Love Again” and its classic disco strings, and the so-bad-it’s-good “Good in Bed.” And that’s only half of them! A year after its release — and absolute domination — Future Nostalgia has delivered on the promise of its title: crafting timeless songs while pushing Lipa into the upper echelon of pop.
Standout tracks: “Don’t Start Now,” “Physical,” “Pretty Please,” “Hallucinate”