by Josh McCann

Above Image via Facebook: Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa’s third album Radical Optimism couldn’t come at a better time. The beginning of summer! This album is going to be played in backyards and pools and dance floors, through all the heat waves. Because summer isn’t a time for depressing pop ballads. Thank you Dua!

This is Dua’s first album since she became the ‘queen of quarantine’ with Future Nostalgia. The album dominated radio, steaming sites, and any dance floor possible. This led to her becoming one of the most talked about artists in the world. Since then she’s created her own newsletter (Service 95) and gone on very cool vacations (her photo dumps on Insta are legendary). She’s more famous than ever, posing on runways and red carpets, hanging with Elton John, making incredible music, all the while making it seem effortless.

I was so excited for this new record. I saw her live on the Future Nostalgia tour. I wrote about it for this very blog! Dua was very smart with making this record. She brought in Tame Impala’s lead singer Kevin Parker to help co-write. The result is an album packed with her signature dance-all-night bangers while also taking it further in new directions.

First off, I bought the cd (shocker!), which has a lenticular cover. When you turn the cover one way, it’s Dua standing in the ocean near a shark. When you turn the cover the opposite direction, she’s underwater in a swimsuit. I know which side I prefer! I flipped it back and forth. So cool. Was the cover inspired by her mermaid cameo in Barbie? Regardless, the ocean brings the summer vibes for the record.

The album kicks off with “End of an Era.” I think the best moment of the song is Dua singing “Another girl falls in love/ another girl leaves the club.” It’s very British and I can’t help but love that. Then we have “Houdini,” which has already proved itself to a be a solid single. So catchy.

The album keeps the dance flow that Dua is known for. “Whatcha Doing” has a funky bass that leads to a passionate chorus. Her vocals sound awesome on this track. “These Walls” made me so happy. It’s a slight turn for Dua, with a slower beat. The chorus is one of the biggest hooks on the record. “If these walls could talk/they’d tell us to breakup“ she sings. This was so cool to hear on my cd stereo, bouncing off my bedroom walls. See what I did there!

“Illusion” might be the best track of the album. It’s a pulsating dance club gem meant for a Saturday night in the city. She opens up the track with some vulnerability, “I been known to a miss red flag/ I been known to put my lover on a pedestal.” This leads to an amazing chorus with a perfect Dua lyric, “Yeah I just wanna dance with the illusion.” Because Dua’s songs are all about dance crying. This is the essence of Dua.

“Falling Forever” is a huge song. I think it has the possibility to be a single. Dua asks, “How long can we stay like together?” It’s an incredible vocal performance. I think her vocals can sometimes be overlooked due to her huge songs. This song showcases the power of her voice. “Maria” has some good guitars and a great groove. I think it can be an underrated fan favorite. Especially when played live.

The album closes out with “Happy for You.” She recently performed it on SNL. It’s an outstanding track that builds up to some reflection. “Oh I must’ve loved you more than I even knew/I’m happy for you.” It’s the right tempo to end the album.

Theres a line in the linear notes, when Dua is talking about making the record and thanking her team. She says, “Embracing the power of words to be a catalyst of hope, I try to find beauty and meaning even in the midst of chaos.” I love that line. It represents Dua’s vision and artistic sensibility. She loves the power of words. And we’ve seen that in Service 95. She also wants people to have hope, even if things are spiraling out of control. These songs can help bring that to fans. They are songs to dance and enjoy and have fun with. She’s made a record where the positive vibes are going strong. We all need it.

By mykct