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Dua Lipa kick-starts her second album with the line, “you want a timeless song, I wanna change the game.” Seemingly a manifesto for the album ahead, it suggests a mould-breaking album, a complete departure from the pop-sphere and a playground of experimentation. What’s ironic is how far from the truth this opening salvo actually is. On Future Nostalgia, instead of forging a new path, Dua Lipa presents a set of 11 songs which perfect the game instead of changing it. The album is front-to-back pop perfection, not so much a landscape of experimentation but instead one of perfect honing of the 80s revivalisms she emulates; in the process, curating a set of timeless songs she originally chides the listener for wanting.
At what point does music become lifeless? Could it be commercial pandering? Indeed, one could spend hours reeling off artists whose music has come across as a blatant cash grab. Whose time spent on their music was looked over with the vague haze of dollar signs clouding their vision. The sort of music whose sole purpose is to sell, sell, sell often comes with an aftertaste of lifelessness, a kind of coppery taste.
Paddy McAloon is a human curio. Sixty-four years of age yet comparatively ancient in outward appearance, he sports long grey hair which melts into a silver beard of equal length. For a photo shoot with the guardian he once sported a cane with a white globe atop it. While this may only be the singular instance of cane wielding one can attribute to McAloon, it’s an image that is seared in my brain; another addition to the aesthetic powerhouse the man is. It would be somewhat trite to call him an elder statesman of pop but with a visage like his, he practically yearns for the honour.
Muse’s career-defining Origin of Symmetry is one of the few albums that I consider to be a modern masterpiece. Their second outing took their musical status to new heights in regard to scope, quality, creativity and ambition. After investing many hours into this album over the course of 14 years, I still find it astonishing how effortlessly Muse branched out to a vast amount of contrasting genres where they were able to completely reinvent themselves musically.
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