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Dua Lipa set too high of a bar with ‘Future Nostalgia’ for ‘Radical Optimism’ to stand out: review

Music review

Radical Optimism

“Radical Optimism” is solid.

Had Sabrina Carpenter, Tate McRae or any of the other up-and-coming pop girlies released the album, it would’ve been a guaranteed star-maker.

But bona fide dance-floor diva Dua Lipa set too high of a bar for herself with 2020’s “Future Nostalgia,” one of the greatest LPs of the decade so far, for its follow-up to stand out.

The 11-track record features the nu-disco hit “Houdini.” Tyrone Lebon

It also includes the singles “Training Season” and “Illusion.” Tyrone Lebon

Primarily produced by Danny L Harle and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, “Radical Optimism” (out Friday) takes listeners on a first-class flight to the Mediterranean, where bottomless Aperol spritzes, white-sand beaches and the hottest people you’ve ever laid eyes on await.

It’s the quintessential summer album Miley Cyrus thought she gave us, the yacht record of the Jonas Brothers’ dreams, the juiciest peach Europe has devoured since “Call Me by Your Name.”

And with just 11 tracks, Lipa makes a case for short albums being cool again, showing the Taylor Swifts, Drakes and Morgan Wallens of the industry that less can be more.

“Radical Optimism” is a solid vacation album. Instagram/Dua Lipa

However, it doesn’t stand out like 2020’s “Future Nostalgia” (seen here). Warner Records

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The Grammy winner, 28, breezes through ditties like the sun-kissed “End of an Era” and the criminally fleeting “Anything for Love,” and she soars through mammoth numbers such as the unforgettable ABBA salute “Falling Forever” and the flute-tastic “Maria.”

But some songs fall flat, namely — and bizarrely — the promotional singles “Training Season” and “Illusion,” neither of which fit the record’s warm, seaside vibe.

Even “Houdini,” the nu-disco hit that kicked off the “Radical Optimism” era, feels like a “Future Nostalgia” reject alongside more fresh-faced tunes like “French Exit.”

Lipa is well-traveled. Instagram/Dua Lipa

She is going on a European tour later this year. Getty Images for Time

So if you’re looking for a tour de force à la “Levitating,” you’re not gonna find it here.

But if unadulterated fun in the sun is the only thing on your summer checklist, boy, has Lipa got a treat for you.

Who would’ve thought that all those vacations she took were for research?

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