Album Review: Future Nostalgia, the second album by Dua Lipa

Since Dua Lipa released her lead single “Don’t Start Now” on November 1st of 2019, I have been patiently (yet excitedly) waiting for the release of her second studio album Future Nostalgia. Before the album’s release, I did not consider myself to be a fan of Dua Lipa. I liked her 2017 smash-hit “New Rules” and the tropical house “One Kiss” collaboration with Calvin Harris, but I did not listen to her music every day or keep up with updates on social media. After the release of Future Nostalgia, though, it is safe to say I consider myself a fan. I still have many albums to listen to this year (some that still haven’t even been released yet), but even so, Future Nostalgia is without a doubt one of the best albums I’ve listened to this year. 

If you haven’t listened to Future Nostalgia and are uncertain as to whether you’d be interested or not, allow me to convince you. Dua Lipa released Future Nostalgia just last week on March 27th (the album was scheduled for April 3rd, but was released earlier due to being leaked) and has since then received widespread acclaim from listeners and critics. Many have praised Future Nostalgia for its production and cohesiveness, as well as its throwback to disco and retro themes. Dua Lipa even said herself that she “took inspiration from music in the 80s, 90s, and 00s to create a ‘timeless modern-retro dance sound.’ 

As someone who personally loves 80s and 90s music, it’s not difficult to miss the obvious influences in Future Nostalgia. It’s nice to hear and I feel as though it’s one of the album’s strong points. Now that we’ve established the sound and such about the album, let’s get into the review! As stated numerous times before, I’m not an expert on music, and will really just be talking about what I like and dislike about the album. Hopefully, though, I will be able to encourage you to check out Future Nostalgia for yourself! I honestly believe everyone should listen to this album at least once. It’s that good.

  1. 1. Future Nostalgia

    Released on December 13, 2019, “Future Nostalgia” is the sole promotional single on the album. While I personally find the album’s three singles to be main standout tracks, “Future Nostalgia” is a great introduction. Described as “a pop song with influences of disco, electro, and funk,” “Future Nostalgia” is a playful tune with lyrics referring to Dua Lipa herself as the “female alpha” who is about to take the listener on a musical journey. And what a journey indeed! I love the retro and electric sound of the song, and how “in your face” it is. It’s a great introduction to the album and helps the listener get an idea as to what the rest of Future Nostalgia will be like.

  2. 2. Don't Start Now

    Released on November 1, 2019 as the first single off Future Nostalgia, “Don’t Start Now” is a nu-disco track with lyrics that tell an ex-lover to move on from a relationship. As mentioned in the introduction, I have been awaiting the release of Future Nostalgia ever since I heard this song. “Don’t Start Now” is a strong, spectacular single, and gives a taste as to what the rest of the album will sound like. It’s also extremely fun to dance to (I know from personal experience)! Whenever you’re feeling down, just pop this song on and you’ll instantly feel better.

  3. 3. Cool

    Compared to the previous two tracks, “Cool” is more laidback and chill, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Described as a “joyous new wave and synth-pop ballad,” Dua Lipa sings of an intense and passionate romance. When I first heard “Cool,” I appreciated the song for what it was, but it did not instantly click with me. After relistening to Future Nostalgia a few times, though, I have begun to like the song more. It’s a nice change of pace after the first two upbeat songs, and it gives the creative writer in me ideas for romantic stories. It makes me think of two lovers on a romantic getaway on a cool summer night in the ‘80s without a care in the world.

  4. 4. Physical

    Released on January 31st as the second single off Future Nostalgia, “Physical” is a synth-pop banger with lyrics that call back to Olivia Newton-John’s 1981 single of the same name. When I first heard “Physical” during the time of its initial release, I was hooked. It was then that I knew Future Nostalgia would be an album worth waiting for. Like “Don’t Start Now,” “Physical” is another song that makes me want to dance. It’s no surprise, too, as the song takes heavy inspiration from ‘80s synth-pop music that everyone loves and can move their feet to.

  5. 5. Levitating

    Previously, I said the three singles off Future Nostalgia were the album’s highlight tracks; however, I will admit there are a couple of b-side’s with the same ‘oomph’ – and “Levitating” happens to be one of them. When I first heard the introduction of “Levitating,” I was taken aback (in a good way) and had to restart the song to appreciate it from the beginning. Described as a “disco song with a rubbery baseline and syncopated handclaps,” Dua Lipa sings about a lover who she views as her starlight. With sweet, romantic lyrics and an addictive beat, it’s not difficult to see why “Levitating” is becoming a fan favorite amongst Dua Lipa fans online (which I have noticed on Twitter). Amongst the b-sides on Future Nostalgia, “Levitating” even has the most streams. Fingers crossed Dua Lipa makes it a single in the future!

  6. 6. Pretty Please

    Compared to the rest of Future Nostalgia, “Pretty Please” is where, as Dua Lipa says according to Apple Music, “you really get to take a breather on the record.” And she’s not wrong. Described as a “stripped-back song that emphasizes the bass, guitar, and synths,” “Pretty Please” is a song in which Dua Lipa asks a lover to help calm her nerves and take the edge off. In comparison to other songs on Future Nostalgia, “Pretty Please” is not my most favorite track, but I appreciate it for what it is. It’s a nice song to listen to when you just want to relax and chill, and while it’s not my favorite track, I definitely wouldn’t skip it.

  7. 7. Hallucinate

    While “Hallucinate” isn’t one of my favorite b-sides off Future Nostalgia, I do enjoy it a fair amount. Described as a “beach-pop, dance-pop, and house-pop” song with styles reminiscent of singers Kylie Minogue and Lady Gaga, “Hallucinate” is a bouncy bop about falling for someone so hard that you begin to lose your perception of reality. It’s fun and like “Don’t Start Now,” it just makes you want to get up and dance.

  8. 8. Love Again

    Next to “Levitating,” “Love Again” is my other favorite b-side off Future Nostalgia. Described as a “pro-love song that takes form in electro-swing pop, dance-pop, and disco,” “Love Again” is about one rediscovering the feeling of love after experiencing quite a terrible heartbreak. With lyrics highlighting how afraid one is over the possibility of  not being able to rediscover such an emotion, these worries are soon taken away by a mysterious lover who helps them feel a spark yet again. While some would regard “Love Again” as a somber tune, I don’t believe so. I see it as a hopeful type of track, and I love it. The instrumental is also a huge plus, too. It’s so addicting!

  9. 9. Break My Heart

    Released on March 25th as the third and final single off Future Nostalgia, “Break My Heart” continues Dua Lipa’s streak of strong highlights. Described as a “dance-pop and disco-pop in a retro-futuristic style,” Dua Lipa questions her relationship choices in the upbeat track. While I think this single is a bit weak compared to the last two, it’s certainly not bad. I love it a lot and feel as though it’s a great end to the trilogy of singles.

  10. 10. Good in Bed

    When I first heard “Good in Bed,” I thought it was the weakest song off Future Nostalgia. After listening to the album a few times, though, I think it fits in well enough with the rest. As Dua Lipa describes the song, “Good in Bed” is about “when good sex is the only thing that was holding two people together.” With a funk-pop tune and brazen lyrics, “Good in Bed” might not be for everyone, but I think it’ll receive a fair amount of love from fans and casual listeners. Compared to other b-sides off the album, it’s the one I listen to the least, but I do think the chorus is addicting.

  11. 11. Boys Will Be Boys

    And finally, we reach the last song off Future Nostalgia. Described as a “baroque pop and chamber pop ballad set to a disco beat,” “Boys Will Be Boys” sees Dua Lipa “take aim at sexual harassment, double standards, and what it is really like to be a woman.” Given the romance theme of Future Nostalgia up until this point, I was a bit surprised when I first heard the lyrics to this song. After reading an excerpt from a live stream Dua Lipa did after the album’s release, however, I do understand why she wanted to place “Boys Will Be Boys” at the end of Future Nostalgia. 

     

    “I wanted to start the album with “Future Nostalgia” and I wanted to finish it off with “Boys Will Be Boys” just because they felt very empowering and strong […] [while also showing] two different sides of feminism, I suppose.” 

    It makes sense, given how “Future Nostalgia” is about a woman being in charge (the “female alpha,” as Dua Lipa describes herself), while “Boys Will Be Boys” is more about calling out sexual harassment, double standards, and how the common phrase “Boys Will Be Boys” harms women. I feel as though “Boys Will Be Boys” is a nice ending to Future Nostalgia and it is a song everyone should give a listen to.

Hopefully, this review encourages you to give Future Nostalgia a listen. I believe it is a strong second album from Dua Lipa, and it will be the one to help her secure a spot as one of the rising female pop artists of our generation. She deserves all the success and I’m happy to see her hard work be critically acclaimed.