Music review: Singer Dua Lipa is the most refreshing voice in pop music

There is a self-assuredness that permeates British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa's music.
There is a self-assuredness that permeates British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa's music.PHOTOS: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY, WARNER BROS

On British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa's break-up anthem New Rules, she lists rules to help you get over your ex: "One, don't pick up the phone, you know he's only calling 'cause he's drunk and alone.

"Two, don't let him in, You'll have to kick him out again. Three, don't be his friend, you know you're gonna wake up in his bed in the morning," she sings in the addictive, horn-laced pop tune.

The track, with its slick production and stellar vocals, oozes self-confidence and sass. It is everything that is great about the 21-year-old's 17-track debut record, which revolves around love and heartbreak.

On the delicate Coldplay-style piano ballad Homesick, a duet with none other than Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, she holds her own against one of the most recognisable voices in modern pop music.

Lipa describes her music as "dark pop", perhaps as the antithesis to the euphoric electronic dance music (EDM) or raunchy tunes that dominate the charts these days.

In fact, there is little in her album that is "dark".

  • POP

  • DUA LIPA (DELUXE)

    Dua Lipa

    Warner

    4/5 stars

Instead, it is shimmering pop music that explores genres and music styles with aplomb. None of it sounds forced, every one tailor-made for her distinctively smoky, sultry vocals.

There are synth-heavy tracks that borrow bits and bobs from the 1980s (Begging, dance number Dreams and the tropical house-laced Hotter Than Hell) and updated with slick, modern production.

Then there are the cheeky pop tunes such as Blow Your Mind (Mwah) and the sparkling, slinky Be The One, both of which have already made their mark on the charts.

Amid the multitude of music styles Lipa explores, there is a self-assuredness and cool that permeates her music. It sets her apart from the multi-octave powerhouses such as her contemporaries Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato, as well as from the try-hard antics of Katy Perry.

There is an authenticity about her music, which also manages to find a catchy chorus at every turn.

Lipa is the most refreshing thing in pop music now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'The most refreshing voice in pop music'. Print Edition | Subscribe