Our feature album this week is Dua Lipa with her self-titled debut album. Born in London to Kosovar parents, Lipa is one of a number of emerging stars who appears to have found a facsimile of fame through regular uploads to YouTube. That being said, when her single Blow Your Mind (Mwah) was released in August 2016, people on both sides of the Atlantic sat up and took notice. An early 2017 collaboration with Dutch DJ Martin Garrix on Scared To Be Lonely and a hastily thrown together limited release EP in March served as a good hype builders. This week sees the culmination of a two year process and the first chance to judge Lipa's real staying power.
To say the album starts slowly would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. In racing terms, there are icebergs capable of lapping this record. The opening two tracks feel dated and are very weak from a songwriting perspective. Opening track Genesis appears set to use religious imagery before lapsing into lacklustre rhymes like the adolescent daydreaming of a child at Sunday school. Lost In Your Light includes the baffling line 'I wanna die in your love all night, babe' – answers on a postcard, please. Luckily, the album does get back on track and the tempo begins to build with the thudding drums and punchy vocals of Hotter Than Hell. Be The One is an intricately-paced track that encompasses the heady flurry of fighting for a relationship well.
Next, we hear from what I like to call the 'sass section', undoubtedly the stand-out portion of the record. IDGAF (hmm... whatever could that mean?) smashes rolling drums against disjointed guitars for a bolshie track that encapsulates the Teflon attitude that Little Mix are constantly craving but never quite reaching. This segues nicely into the aforementioned Blow Your Mind (Mwah). Pointless parentheses aside, the song oozes a refined couldn't-care-less attitude which, coupled with a relentless beat and fiery vocals, makes for a track endowed with both style and strut factor. Little did I know, this is where both of these factors would come to a screeching halt.
Just as you feel Lipa is starting to get into her groove, the well dries up. Like a substandard sexual encounter, the quality material is spent and all that is left are six more tracks of awkwardness. By the time the ghost of Orville the Duck drifts in on mediocre break up track No Goodbyes, one could be excused for trying to locate one's trousers on the floor and make a dash for it. Thinking 'Bout You aims for stripped-back class but pulls up just short of dull. Much like The Chainsmokers a few weeks ago, Lipa also manages to track down Chris Martin during an idle moment for closing track Homesick – a song which serves as a jam session but is desperately crying out for one of the hooks that Martin undoubtedly reserves for his own work.
There is enough to this album to not write off Dua Lipa altogether. It is clear to see that she is a very marketable singer but I really wanted her to be more than that. Unfortunately, there is just too much wrong with this album to make excuses – it is an album of 'buts'. Yes, it does recover somewhat from a weak start but it then succumbs to a very weak end packed out with tracks that other artists wouldn't even consider to be filler. Yes, Lipa's voice does suit the more dance-orientated tracks (what I call Ellie Goulding syndrome) but Garden hints at a deeper soulfulness that is barely tapped into at all. Yes, there are some nice songwriting flourishes but there are also enough hollow religious references to fill a Dan Brown book. I, for one, am disappointed but I will cling to the thin sliver of hope that an overhaul prior to a second release might see a pay out on early promise.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Week
“If you don’t like the way I talk, then why am I on your mind?//If you don’t like the way I rock, then finish your glass of wine”
Blow Your Mind (Mwah)
Fails to live up to the hype
No Lipa service
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