Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa

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With the confidence and determination of a seasoned vet, English-Albanian singer/songwriter Dua Lipa crafted a delightful collection of catchy pop gems where the songs only serve to highlight her vocal prowess. Lithe enough to avoid production overkill and containing just enough substance to nourish, Dua Lipa arrived after years of studio time and six big singles (three of which became U.K. Top 40 hits). The album is front-loaded with those highlights, creating a rush of dancefloor intensity with "Hotter Than Hell," "Be the One," "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)," and the duet with Miguel, "Lost in Your Light." The second half of the LP shines an extra spotlight on Lipa's voice, which, to some extent, can echo the control and power of Adele and Sia. "Garden" is a sweeping, soulful number that does just that, combining the dramatics of a slow-burning Sia ballad with Adele's delivery. "No Goodbyes" is another emotional journey, one of the handful of absolutely yearning and pained confessions from Lipa's broken heart. The acoustic R&B "Thinking 'Bout You" smolders, a lovelorn lament that finds Lipa exhausting her chemical outlets in an attempt to forget a past romance. In a similar vein, "New Rules" is all house-inflected shine, a cautionary list that cleverly warns "if you're under him, you're not over him." In addition to Miguel, a pair of other guests contribute additional highlights. The MNEK-produced kiss-off "IDGAF" is a cheeky, Ed Sheeran-esque singalong that provides a perfect anthem for anyone who has ever been burned by love. "Homesick" -- written by Chris Martin -- could be a direct sequel to Coldplay's 2016 single "Everglow." The delicate ballad reveals Lipa's vulnerability and softness, the defenses of studio production stripped away, leaving only Lipa, Martin, and a twinkling piano. Such exposure isn't found elsewhere on the rest of the album, which is mostly concerned with self-empowerment and Lipa's refreshingly defiant attitude. It's moments like this one that strike such a satisfying balance on Dua Lipa, an excellent first effort from a budding pop star.

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