Dua Lipa
Radical Optimism


3.4
great

Review

by Mike Kaplan STAFF
May 4th, 2024 | 69 replies


Release Date: 05/03/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Training season’s over—and reality sets in.

Let’s be frank—Future Nostalgia was going to be a tough act to follow. That album, simply put, was a pop album done right. It did not seek to break any mold, do anything different, or create a new musical trend—and that is exactly why it succeeded. The silky bass lines and stripped back arrangements along with Lipa’s sultry alto and teasingly risqué lyrics created an atmosphere that was mesmerizing, alluring, and most importantly fun. The average listener could appreciate it for its almost hypnotizing ability to make them dance, while the, uh, connoisseur could appreciate the winding bass lines and shamelessly 80s disco aesthetic. It had something for everyone, and it was a vibrant reminder for all of us to loosen up and dance a little in the year of our Lord twenty-twenty.

So now we’ve arrived in 2024 and Dua Lipa, having firmly entrenched herself in the pantheon of the pop-star elite, has arrived at the true acid test of her career—can she do it again?

Uhhhh… sort of.

Radical Optimism is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there are a lot of things in this album that feel like natural progressions for Dua Lipa’s creative vision. Unfortunately, a lot of those progressions are also at the expense of what made Future Nostalgia so endearing.

Radical Optimism (written largely with Kevin Parker of Tame Impala) embraces a richer soundscape than its predecessor. The arrangements are lush and colorful—with a greater variety of instruments and sounds, more depth, and Dua Lipa exercising her vocal cords at a more expansive range than she probably ever has. While the discopop influence is still prevalent in tracks like “Houdini” and “Illusion,” songs like “These Walls” and “French Exit” attempt a more acoustic-indie pop approach, while “Forever Falling” and “Maria” are more traditional ballads.

Radical Optimism is Dua Lipa taking risks and trying new things and, as individual songs, a lot of things work. I cannot say that I was infatuated with the closing stretch of the record, but the care that was taken in making sure the little details popped out throughout the album is noticeable. I’m talking about things like the harmonies in “Training Season,” the slick synth bass at the end of “Houdini,” the nifty drum line in “French Exit” or the acoustic guitar and lovely-but-melancholic chord progression in “These Walls”—and to be clear, it’s not like those disco bass lines have completely faded from the picture (“Whatcha Doing” is a great example). Underneath all the glittery production, Lipa evidently has at least tried to ensure that part of what made her last outing successful is still part of the mix.

The problem with this record lies in the three words “as individual songs” stated in the paragraph above. Part of what made Future Nostalgia outstanding (as brought up in the review written on this very site) is how thematically cohesive it was. Each song straddled the line between having a unique identity and being part of a unified whole. Where Radical Optimism falls down is that it does not feel as fluid or complete as Future Nostalgia did. There are a lot of great ideas, but those ideas don’t necessarily translate into greatness, largely because the album feels a bit drowned in its own creative progression.

I wish I could have written a gushing review saying, “She did it again!” but unfortunately I can’t—and it’s a bit hard to hide my ever-so-slight disappointment. I can say, however, that there are a lot of individual moments on Radical Optimism that are lovely to listen to, and—despite my qualms—it’s definitely worth a spin.



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user ratings (100)
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Manatea
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


1955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Album was good but not great. Was hoping it would be better but there you go. Hope you enjoy the review

BaselineOOO
May 4th 2024


2583 Comments


Worst thing I ever heard, it's like mall music but without the smoothness nor any creative hook.

Purpl3Spartan
May 4th 2024


8696 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

get yourself someone who loves you as much as Kosovans love America



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2rTafbQepg

BaselineOOO
May 4th 2024


2583 Comments


Everyone loves America, they're just to poor to visit it in person and realize their country sucks in comparison.

Purpl3Spartan
May 4th 2024


8696 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice bait

Butkuiss
May 4th 2024


7222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pretty much my thoughts, though I’d probably be closer to a 3 than a 3.5 at this point. Great write up!

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


6199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great write-up! I found it very mild compared to Future Nostalgia.

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


1955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

It was milder for sure. Still overall thought it was good but it doesn’t have the staying power

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


1955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

And thanks for stopping by everyone!

Get Low
May 4th 2024


14334 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

very 3 album

Piglet
May 4th 2024


8496 Comments


duas still my favourite industry plant 😍

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


32053 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Definitely a step down from Future Nostalgia. Still, a good pop album. Great rev Mike.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2024


6199 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's nice to see her trying something different when everybody wanted another round of Future Nostalgia, so props for that.

SteakByrnes
May 4th 2024


29996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fun album! She sounds very good on this, sounds like she really worked on getting her voice stronger

Tundra
May 4th 2024


9802 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Owns tbh

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2024


1955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Her range and delivery are definitely much improved, and that is nice for sure

AmericanFlagAsh
May 5th 2024


13390 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

It’s fun, that’s about it

Willow released the best album on Friday

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2024


5507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

rly good review, very surprised by the near total lack of hype for this from everyone (including myself). keep forgetting this dropped lol but will check soon hopefully maybe

hamid95
May 5th 2024


1204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really good stuff! Frankly, this is more consistent than FN

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2024


1955 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

It appears that much like her last album, ppl either love this or think it’s totally mid…



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