Dua Lipa returns with Houdini: Does she still have the magic?

Pop star Dua Lipa has given fans the first taste of her hotly-anticipated third album, with the release of a new single: Houdini.

The track, which dropped at 23:00 GMT, is a warp-speed club anthem, that finds the singer threatening to disappear like the famed escapologist if a man fails to impress her.

It arrives after weeks of cryptic teasers on her social media accounts, many of which were swiftly deleted, in a nod to Harry Houdini’s slippery nature.

“The song is essentially about knowing when to stay and knowing when the right time to leave is,” she told BBC Radio 1’s Greg James on Friday.

“I think a lot of that comes from getting to know yourself, becoming really confident in the fact that, you know what, you deserve that kind of thing,” she added.

“It’s a very dark after hours psychedelic club track.”

Lipa’s last album, the disco love letter Future Nostalgia, won two Brit Awards and a Grammy for best pop album.

But earlier this year, the British-Albanian star appeared to signal a new musical direction.

In the music video for her summer smash Dance The Night, a giant mirror ball dislodged itself from the ceiling and shattered on the floor.

“This feels like her triumphant stomp on that era of her music into whatever she does next,” said Mark Ronson, , externalher co-writer and producer on the Barbie soundtrack song.

In an interview with Variety magazine, Dua all but confirmed the shift, saying her third album had “taken a complete turn” from her previous material,

“The album is different – it’s still pop, but it’s different sonically, and there’s more of a lyrical theme,” she said, external, later hinting that “1970s-era psychedelia, external” had been a big inspiration.

At first, Houdini appears to confirm the anti-disco narrative. The muffled sound of a nightclub is heard through closed doors, as though the star is walking away from her trademark sound.

But it’s all an illusion. When Dua whispers “OK“, the track kicks into gear with a thumping drumbeat and an eccentric, percolating bassline (subtly recalling Queen’s Radio Gaga).

It might not be disco – but the insistent groove possesses an intense physicality that’s a perfect fit for a singer out on the prowl.

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