For many years, Dua Lipa has had a stranglehold on pop music. Releasing her first studio album back in 2017, she has been keen on the recent trends of the genre, transforming from RnB-inspired electropop, to anthemic dance-pop hits, and now psychedelic euro disco grooves.

Top charters like “Don’t Stop Now,” “Physical” and “Levitating” (along with its DaBaby remix,) have proved that Dua Lipa can tap into the pulse of the pop music zeitgeist – however, with her most recent studio outing, “Radical Optimism,” Dua seems to be losing her place on top of the pop music totem pole.

To start off the record, the first track “End Of An Era,” both indicates the end of Dua’s previous musical era, the “Future Nostalgia/Dance the Night Away” era, as well as the end and start of a new, exciting relationship in her life.

“No more ‘you’re not my type’, no more ‘at least I tried’/Done with the lonely nights, I guess/One chapter might be done, God knows I had some fun/New one has just begun,” Dua Lipa sings in “End Of An Era.”

As she has stated in countless interviews and press-releases, through self-reflection, Dua has a new outlook on life and the world through music she has been listening to for the past five years.

However, this perspective does not translate on the first song. Dua kicks off the record with a track indistinguishable from about half of the other songs on the record: samey-sounding synths, bass, drums and even vocals plague “Radical Optimism.”

The problem with an album like “Radical Optimism” is that the influences that Dua identifies and factors contributing to the album’s sound just are not present on most of the tracks.

“At the same time, I found myself looking through the music history of psychedelia, trip hop, and Britpop. It has always felt so confidently optimistic to me, and that honesty and attitude is a feeling I took into my recording sessions,” Dua shared when first teasing the record.

Dua Lipa also has worked with several producers who work on alternative and electronic music, including Danny L Harle and Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala.)

These ideas all seem interesting, provocative and innovative – but why does the album sound so manufactured and faltered.

The simple (yet speculative) answer is that Dua Lipa is signed to Warner Records UK, which is a ginormous music company. Labels like Warner snatch rising stars, sign them to lengthy and demanding contracts, all while filtering their visions and condensing their products to sell to the lowest common denominator.

Tracks like “End Of An Era,” Falling Forever,” “Whatcha Doing,” “Anything For Love” and “Maria” all contain incredibly similar elements and structure, not changing or contributing to the evolution of the album’s sound.

Frankly, the jump from a record like 2020’s “Future Nostalgia” and even the single “Dance The Night Away” from the “Barbie” movie soundtrack to “Radical Optimism” is downright depressing.

The few tracks on here that I can find some sense of unique identity in, like “Houdini and “These Walls” – feel as though they are the last remaining pieces of an album lost to weeks and months of executive board room filtering.

Although Dua seems to have gained a newfound appreciation for the world and has transferred that new outlook into her music – I do not buy it.