It takes a genuine miracle for a new act to nudge Drake and Ed Sheeran out of their UK singles chart monopoly, but Kosovo-born, London-based star Dua Lipa has managed it three times. Her singles ‘Be The One’ and ‘Hotter Than Hell’ made the Top 15; the same went for Martin Garrix collaboration ‘Scared To Be Lonely’. All this before an actual full-length album.
The eventual debut doesn’t so much hint at Dua Lipa becoming a superstar as scream it from the rooftops. This is a sass-packed, honest, uncompromising storm. And before the Chris Martin-penned closing track ‘Homesick’, there isn’t a standard ballad within sight. No dull moments, not a whiff of boring, just bangers.
Those chart-bothering early singles pave the way for a record that won’t rest until it’s compressed every available hook into gigantic pop songs. So as well as the dancehall-nodding ‘Hotter Than Hell’, there’s the steamed-up Miguel collaboration ‘Lost In Your Light’ and the post-breakup punch of ‘IDGAF’. Even when the 21-year-old threatens to slow down, she’ll throw in the odd twist. ‘Thinking ’Bout You’ starts as an acoustic slow burner, but soon reveals itself to be a sharp-witted firecracker. ‘No Goodbyes’ begins slowly but eventually becomes an Ibiza-ready heatwave.
Much of the album’s magic boils down to one element: Lipa’s voice. It could make the thickest synths seem tame in comparison and carries a 20-a-day raspiness capable of making heartfelt ballads sound edgy. Those vocals are the magic ingredient, saving potentially limp tracks from extinction. But it’s equally impressive to hear how confidently the debut holds itself together, flitting between styles but always shining a spotlight on a legitimate pop sensation. She’s the real deal.