Dua Lipa’s “Radical Optimism” is Blissful, But Not Extremely Radical

Dua Lipa at the MTV EMAs 2019
Dua Lipa at the MTV EMAs 2019. Photo by Shutterstock (10464850dg)

Dua Lipa gave us one of the defining pop records of the 2020s with Future Nostalgia, and this album was always going to be a tough act to follow. She set out to capture the essence of freedom on her third studio album Radical Optimism and definitely succeeded, while also failing to break new ground.

When Lipa first announced Radical Optimism, she described it as a record that explores the idea “the idea of going through chaos gracefully and feeling like you can weather any storm.” She stayed true to her word, while also breaking some of the other promises she made while promoting this record.

Lipa also described her third LP as a “psychedelic-pop-infused tribute to UK rave culture”, inspired by psychedelia, trip-hop, and Britpop, mentioning Primal Scream and Massive Attack as her inspiration. These influences are nowhere to be seen, and Radical Optimism feels more like a love letter to Euro-pop that would fit right in at Eurovision, than the Britpop-inspired album she painted it as.

Lipa introduces us to her new sound with the solid opener “End of an Era” and followed it up with two songs we’ve already heard: “Houdini” and “Training Season”. Choosing them as singles proved to be a smart move because they’re two of the strongest tracks on this record.

Lipa also described Radical Optimism as her most personal record yet, but it doesn’t feel like it. Getting too vulnerable was never a part of her brand, and her career never suffered for it before, but the cracks are starting to show on her third studio album, which feels quite bland in comparison to some of the recent albums by her peers.

If you’re looking for carefree, escapist pop that will fire up the summer festivals, Radical Optimism will be your cup of tea. It gives us some pretty solid bangers, including “Illusion” and “Falling Forever”, that could become hits if Lipa sticks to playing the long game.

Despite being a pretty solid dance-pop record, Radical Optimism is also Lipa’s weakest one yet. It definitely doesn’t break any new ground, but you can feel that she had the time of her life making it, and its carefree vibe might help you find your bliss, as well.