Monday, May 27, 2024

Critics Aren’t Exactly Bowled Over By Dua Lipa’s Long-Awaited New Album

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The reviews are out for Dua Lipa’s latest album Radical Optimism – and let’s just say they’re… interesting.

It’s now been four years since Dua blessed us with her incredible album Future Nostalgia, and in that time she’s picked up the coveted Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album titles at the Brit Awards and Grammys, respectively, recorded a chart-topping hit for the biggest film of 2023 and collaborated with everyone from Miley Cyrus and Megan Thee Stallion to Sir Elton John and Kylie Minogue.

No wonder, then, that anticipation for album number three has been high – spurred on even more by Dua teasing last year that her new music was “different sonically” to her last offering and “inspired by 1970s-era psychedelia”.

So, here’s the thing. It’s not necessarily that reviews for Radical Optimism are bad, but many critics have been left questioning whether it’s a worthy follow-up to Future Nostalgia, particularly given everything that Dua has had to say about her new music in the lead-up.

Here’s a selection of what critics are saying about Dua Lipa’s third album…

“In light of its advanced billing, it’s hard to listen to Radical Optimism without wondering what on earth its author is talking about. It sounds nothing like any of the artists mentioned, even less like a ‘psychedelic pop-infused tribute to UK rave culture’. Instead it sounds exactly like an album by Dua Lipa.”

“If you want a bit of light, upbeat, undeniably optimistic pop about, well, not much really, this does the trick. No doubt it will help Lipa’s headline set at this year’s Glastonbury Festival go down a storm. It’s just not that interesting.”

Had Sabrina Carpenter, Tate McRae or any of the other up-and-coming pop girlies released the album, it would’ve been a guaranteed star-maker.

“But bona fide dance-floor diva Dua Lipa set too high of a bar for herself with 2020’s Future Nostalgia, one of the greatest LPs of the decade so far, for its follow-up to stand out.”

“[This album] comes with considerable expectations [and] Lipa is keen to stress that churning out hits isn’t her focus, she wants the whole album to stand the test of time. It feels unlikely, however, that Radical Optimism is that record.”

Those songs show that Lipa is still capable of delivering all-out bangers, but it’s ultimately hard to shake the nagging feeling that she’s capable of doing so much better. A truly optimistic view of this album, you sense, would be a radical thing to find.”

Lipa has been talking up her third studio album as a meditation on hard-won emotional maturity à la Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine or Kacey Musgraves’ Deeper Well. ‘Radical optimism in the way that I see it,’ she told Zane Lowe, ‘is this idea of rolling with the punches.’

“The LP’s cover shows her bobbing in the sea dangerously close to a shark’s fin, and I guess the shark represents the punches? Yet because Lipa’s lyrics are very bad […] this concept doesn’t really come together.”

“The overthought Radical Optimism puts Lipa so many steps ahead she’s hard to make out. Her tight grip reveals an empty hand.”

“Far patchier than Future Nostalgia, too much of Radical Optimism is lacking in the album title’s first adjective; but despite its flatter moments, there’s still plenty to like here.”

“The final impression is of an artist determined to remain elusive – a throwback to the time when pop stars were not the best friends we hadn’t met yet but visitors from distant galaxies.

“The tunes are great. Lipa, for better or worse (generally better), is an opaque presence throughout.”

For some of its slight missteps, Radical Optimism is still a great entry. Future Nostalgia is a hard act to follow up but said follow up comes with a good mix of pop tunes, some for the dance floor and some not.”

“An 80s aerobics instructor, she wants bodies on the dancefloor: feel the burn, sweat it out. Dress in something that allows you to bend and snap along with her, you’ll end up glowing with Lipa’s Radical Optimism.”

“[Radical Optimism is] a direct pop record dressed up and perfected in the way that the best pop music does, gussying up the structures and conventions of the genre while ignoring everything outside of it. Lipa has extensively talked about growth, and here it shines particularly in her vocals.”

“As its title suggests, Radical Optimism is a buoyant collection of breezy dance and luxuriantly produced pop that may well end up soundtracking the summer.”

“Whilst rivals churn out bloated playlists overcrowded with gimmickry and collaborations, the 11 tracks of Radical Optimism conjure an even more tightly focused set of supremely crafted and stylishly invigorating dance pop bangers than 2020′s world conquering Future Nostalgia.”

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