Dua Lipa - Radical Optimism

The album we got makes a lot more sense for her, but I will say Falling Forever along with Houdini and Training Season are the songs that fit my totally made up vision for a grimier, crunchier, dark-ish album called Chaos Theory—the ying to Future Nostalgia’s yang if you willwith the Time magazine shoot serving as the visual direction. It’s a total vibe in my head!
Just finished my first listen and...I have some mixed feelings. On the positive side, all three singles sound like classics in the context of the album ("Houdini" in particular has been aging like fine wine for me over the past few months) and "These Walls" and "Falling Forever" were instant standouts to me - I'm glad that "These Walls" seems to be the focus track they are pushing to playlists/etc...with the album release because it is truly THAT girl.

On the other hand...none of the other new tracks made a big impression on me (except negative ones to "French Exit" and "Anything For Love" - which is why the comments about this album being more consistent/avoiding the lows of Future Nostalgia are a bit confusing to me nn). But with how quick and breezy the album is, I'll certainly be replaying it especially as the weather improves and giving the other tracks a chance to grow on me. Overall, the 7/10 reviews feel about right for this at this point. It's a solid little album, but it doesn't quite clear the ridiculously high bar that she set for herself with Future Nostalgia (which, I realize is an incredibly difficult ask) although a handful of the tracks certainly meet or exceed that standard. It's cute but not gorgeous for me, at least not yet.
I'm sure I read a quote a few months back from her saying this album had been inspired by Britpop and 90s rave. I don't hear either here but it was a pleasant enough first listen - she sounds very sexy when she speaks French.
I'm sure I read a quote a few months back from her saying this album had been inspired by Britpop and 90s rave. I don't hear either here but it was a pleasant enough first listen - she sounds very sexy when she speaks French.

The quote I feel has been so blown up and tinted people's expectations, which is what it is, but she did explain the ~inspiration~ in more detail a few months ago:

You’ve said that this album is inspired by Britpop, but it still sounds like a hard-nosed pop record. How did Britpop inspire you and speak to how the songs were shaped?

Well, for me, I think the Britpop element that really came to me was the influences of Oasis and Massive Attack and Portishead and Primal Scream, and the freedom and the energy those records had. I love the experimentation behind it. And of course, it’s a pop record. I’m a pop artist, that’s what I do. But I think overall, the different sounds that are being used, the different breaks in the music, the use of musical samples, whether that’s with Kevin’s voice or with the different instruments that we used, overall it was me going completely out of what I knew, and exploring something different. And that’s what I got from my inspiration. I wasn’t going into Britpop and being like, I’m making this record that sounds exactly like… Because it doesn’t. But it’s a feeling that they portray that when I hear “Teardrop” by Massive Attack and I’m like, how did this song even come to be? It feels like it just happened in a moment of real freedom and writing and emotion, and I think that was just the feeling I was trying to convey more than anything.

Also this bit about the actual sound:

You’re coming off of “Future Nostalgia,” which was such a massive record for you. How did you get back into the creative space to begin this next chapter, and do you feel the weight of “Future Nostalgia” going into that?

For me, writing for my new album, for “Radical Optimism,” everything was delayed because I had been on tour, and during that tour, every break that I had in between, I went to the studio. So I was breaking away from the “Future Nostalgia” world and going into “Radical Optimism.” So for me, it was very important to have a sonic separation and to try to experiment with different sounds. And it took me a while, I started actually writing in 2021 but I didn’t really get anything until my very first session with Kevin Parker, Danny L. Harle, Tobias [Jesso Jr.] and Caroline [Ailin], which was in June 2022. So it was just a lot of writing and writing and figuring out where I was going and experimenting with different sounds until I was like, I’ve got it, I know where I’m headed. There’s always one song that’s that eureka moment that takes you into the next phase of the album. And I wanted a sonic departure. I also fell in love so much with the live versions of the songs, and so I loved having that organic musicality behind it, have that be really prevalent throughout the whole new album. So yeah, that’s what I aimed to do.


I feel like if outlets hadn't run with the artists she had listed to Rolling Stone (even though they never directly quoted her), listeners would have gone into this a bit differently
If these walls could talk
(They’d say)
(They’d say)
These cobwebs


This Gabriella Cilmi serve. I love it
Hmm, I'm once again falling somewhere in the middle of feeling like there's a lot being done both directions. The critique I'd say aligns most with my own thoughts is how the production largely feels like the strongest aspect of the project and at times eclipses the melodies and songwriting.

After a couple full listens it's giving poppier Solar Power. Which is not meant derogatory because I think there's a lot of hand wringing done over that album! It's more so meant in how both albums attempt to capture an intangible vibe. Where the disconnect comes for me is that said vibe feels a bit upper class locked and in turn, singular. This is for the girls who make upwards of six figures and vacation more than they staycation, meanwhile I can't remember the last time I was on a beach. I recognize what is hindering my own engagement with this album stems from these factors. I respect it as a significantly more interesting artistic pivot than what was probably expected post-Future Nostalgia, and I'm giving it room to grow. I just wish some of the album tracks were connecting the same way the best of them did last go around.