Dua Lipa burst onto the Billboard Hot 100 last August with ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah),’ and she’s been taking the world by storm ever since. Her eponymous debut album is quite remarkable because it has the energy and bravado of a singer new on the scene, but the polish and careful refinements of an artist who’s done this for much longer. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of Lipa’s music is her contralto range, setting her aside from much of the Top 40. Stars like Halsey, Zara Larsson and Bebe Rexha each bring their own unique flavor to the airwaves, but after a while things all sound the same. Not the case with Lipa.
Dua Lipa was recorded from 2015-17, and opens with the Axident-produced ‘Genesis.’ A sway-worthy chorus invigorates the track, keeping the tempo steady but restrained. ‘Lost In Your Light’ features Miguel who also wrote and produced the track. It’s quite the summery bop, with disco vibes and a cute, if not somewhat simple video. However, it’s a somewhat out of place inclusion on the album, especially considering Lipa’s other collaborations with artists like Martin Garrix and Sean Paul. ‘Lost In Your Light’ sounds more like a Miguel track than a Dua Lipa one, even though she does it justice.
‘Hotter Than Hell’ oozes Lipa’s signature sound, and had it been released after she enjoyed more widespread success, the track would be a worldwide smash and not just a standout in the UK. It’s not surprising that ‘Hotter Than Hell’ captured the United Kingdom’s attention with its tropical beats and dark, gritty video reminiscent of a 2016 version of Sugababe’s ‘Freak Like Me.’ It’s a highlight of the album and certain to be one that stands the test of time when Dua Lipa’s inevitable greatest hits album arrives.
Lipa’s album is packed tightly full of songs that have already been released or are deserving of single status. ‘Be The One,’ the album’s second single, is a synth delight about finding true love and overcoming life’s obstacles. It’s memorable chorus will get stuck in your head — which is the point, really, even though the verses aren’t anything too special.
The song that propelled Lipa to fame in America when it landed #1 on the American dance charts, ‘Blow Your Mind (Mwah)’ is just as catchy in 2017 as it was when it was released back in August of last year. Dua Lipa is an album that was slow moving but unstoppable. It’s unusual to see an album with singles being released almost a year before the album comes out, but Dua Lipa seems to know best. ‘Blow Your Mind’ got her the attention her talent deserved, and she went on tour because of it. During that interim, she continued finessing Dua Lipa until it was perfect.
‘Blow Your Mind’ is both playful and seductive, which really seems to be Lipa’s persona in a nutshell. As the video shows, her fashion sense is both daring and unbelievably attainable. Whether it’s an oversized jacket, a sheer top, or a choker with her name emblazoned on it, she manages to rock it effortlessly. Her sound is modern pop, and her visuals harken back to past eras bringing about a sense of nostalgia that Lipa is eager to provide and nurture.
As inclined as most pop listeners may be to a good tune that calls them to the dance floor, Lipa is much more than a disco queen. ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’ illustrates this wonderfully. It’s a relaxed and R&B flavored track that allows her soulfully low voice shine. Lipa’s got the rhythm, and when it comes to the mystery man who left her, she sure is full of blues.
Dua Lipa is full of love songs, but ‘New Rules’ changes the pace, with Lipa singing about having an epiphany and the steps it takes to get over a relationship that’s going nowhere. Accompanying the track is a fun and colorful video that’s perfect for the summertime. The track was made for Lipa’s sultry low register, and the high melody pairs nicely with her voice.
Lipa’s other pre-release singles have been tacked onto the end of the album’s Deluxe Edition. It’s a wise choice — Lipa has quite a massive amount of singles she’s put out before this album, enough to take up much of the album’s tracklisting. Delegating ‘New Love’ and ‘Room For 2’ to the deluxe edition frees up the album for other songs for Lipa’s more casual listeners. Not to mention neither of these tracks meshes well with the current sound Lipa has arrived to throughout the progression of her career so far. ‘Room For 2’ is a duller version of ‘Thinking ‘Bout You,’ and ‘New Love’ is bested by ‘Be The One,’ both of which made it to the album’s final cut.
Non-single highlights include ‘IDGAF’ – which will surely be a single sooner or later. The deluxe edition has a gem with ‘Bad Together.’ The song ‘Garden’ is a nice, romantic ballad, but ‘Thinking ‘Bout You’ has more emotion and mainstream appeal. Nonetheless, even Lipa’s fluffier tracks will be sure to satisfy her hardcore fans and more casual fans who enjoy her voice and production.
Dua Lipa is a well-packaged album that’s been given careful attention to detail and arrangement. For those new to Lipa’s style, there’s a healthy mix of singles to keep them happy, with an array of new songs to satisfy her fans who have been there from the beginning. Highly recommended.