Earlier this year, British pop singer Dua Lipa released what will probably be the best pop album of the year. Future Nostalgia, her sophomore record, gave listeners a clearer sense of her style and solidified her status as a pop music powerhouse, delivering one great track after the other. It is a remarkably consistent album with very little hiccups and plenty to love. And so, the announcement of Club Future Nostalgia, a lengthy remix project covering all songs from the album, showed a lot of promise. After all, the originals are so solid that they couldn’t possibly be underwhelming, right?
Well, what we have is a lot more complicated. Club Future Nostalgia features plenty of catchy, engaging and dynamic remixes with a fresh take on the originals. But the album also has plenty of strange production decisions that are pretty questionable and lead to a few head-scratches.
Club Future Nostalgia is at its best when it recognizes the strengths of the original songs and expands on them. This is the case with the remix of “Love Again,” which takes full advantage of the original’s laid-back rhythm and infectious melodies, leaning more into its disco-inspired elements. The remix of “Levitating” features Madonna and Missy Elliot and thrives due to its embrace of the song’s undeniable sense of excitement of fun. The rhythm is sped up, but the tone of the original has been left intact and the features comfortably compliment this style. “Physical,” featuring Gwen Stefani and produced by Mark Ronson is also excellent, as Ronson makes the best of the song’s slow pace and places unbelievably catchy synths on top of each other.
But while these remixes aptly take advantage of Future Nostalgia‘s most successful ideas, others muddle the essence of the original versions. Both remixes of “Pretty Please” fall in the latter category. The original song gained most of its appeal due to its slow pace and slithering bass line, breaking into brief techno-pop melodies halfway through. The two versions in Club Future Nostalgia choose to exclusively focus on the rhythmic and electronic antics, flattening the melodies and Dua Lipa’s performance.
These two remixes are followed by one of the strangest remixes of the album. Zach Witness’ remix of “Boys Will Be Boys” is a very conflicting listen. It takes lyrics that originally had a very serious tone and turns them into an anthemic, club-friendly refrain that synchronizes with the rhythm of song’s hook. This awkward production decision that is made even weirder when the song then transforms into a grandiose, latin-inspired breakdown filled with horns and loud percussion. And while all of these elements are fantastic from a musical standpoint, they just seem profoundly unfit for the song’s tone.
Other moments in the album are similarly misguided. The first remix of “Break My Heart” utilizes practically nothing from the original song, and Dua Lipa’s collaboration with BLACKPINK “Kiss and Make Up” loses its charm by trying to force disco elements into a song that was clearly not meant for that style. By far the most confusing song on the album, Mr. Fingers’ remix of “Hallucinate,” features a lengthy sample of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” that comes completely out of nowhere and in no way complements the original song or the new version. Thankfully, the album’s pace is instantly saved by an excellent remix of the same song.
In the end, Club Future Nostalgia relies heavily on its best moments, which I will certainly keep revisiting on their own. However, a lot of the album’s potential is dragged down by strange production choices and a slightly misguided mission statement. Maybe not all the songs from Future Nostalgia are fit for club-style remixes. But there is still plenty of fun to be had with this remix album, and it is probably the closest you will come to going to an actual club during the current times.
Best songs: “Love Again,” “Levitating,” “Hallucinate (Paul Woolford Remix),” “Love is Religion” and “Physical”
Worst Songs: “Pretty Please (Masters at Work Remix),” “Hallucinate (Mr. Fingers Remix),” “Kiss and Make Up”