Dua Lipa: “Houdini”

Dua Lipa’s 2020 breakthrough Future Nostalgia established her as a winky dancefloor queen in the vein of Kylie Minogue. Its songs were fun and funky, occasionally anonymous to a fault. Her new single “Houdini,” doesn’t reinvent the wheel: Lipa taunts a man into proving he deserves her attention, squarely in the brazen, invulnerable Future Nostalgia mode. But production from Kevin Parker and Danny L Harle provides some of the drive and loony spark that was missing from Lipa’s club tracks thus far. It’s harder and fuller, powered by Soulwax-esque synth groans, a relentless four-on-the-floor beat, and a fluttering bongo line for good measure—pleasingly detailed in a way that many of the Stuart Price confections on Future Nostalgia weren’t.

“Houdini” is Parker through and through—the descending synth line that closes the song is remarkably similar to the one in Tame Impala’s “Let It Happen”—but the presence of a strong topliner in Lipa, along with Caroline Ailin and Tobias Jesso Jr., wipes away the smeary haze that’s always coated even his punchiest dance tracks. And while the song isn’t the full Dua-goes-Harlecore moment some fans may have wanted, you can still hear the shininess—and slight freakiness—that the Caroline Polachek collaborator’s name entails, eventually spinning out into a creepy-carnival breakdown. Moving into a zone that’s keyed-up and distinctive, Lipa and her collaborators capitalize on the satisfactions of her signature formula but with a little more magic.