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New Music Friday: The best albums out May 3

You could call Dua Lipa's third album, "Radical Optimism," the further adventures in the pop music time machine.
Tyrone Lebon
Courtesy of the artist
You could call Dua Lipa's third album, "Radical Optimism," the further adventures in the pop music time machine.

On the May 3 episode of New Music Friday, NPR Music's Hazel Cills and WRTI's Nate Chinen discuss Radical Optimism, the new album from dance-pop superstar Dua Lipa.

It's the latest in 2024's gauntlet of high-profile new albums by major artists who have, at one time or another in the last few years, felt like the central character in the pop music universe. Some of the other competitors for our attention this spring: Ariana Grande, Kacey Musgraves, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and — in just a couple more weeks — Billie Eilish.

The new songs on Radical Optimism are mostly in the vein of Dua Lipa's earlier work. Call it her further adventures as the pilot of the pop-music time machine. But that itself might be reason to keep a militantly sunny attitude: A parade of hits from her last album, Future Nostalgia, proved to have incredible staying power — "Levitating" hung around in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart for nearly a year — and she contributed to last year's cultural juggernaut Barbie with the hit "Dance the Night." Still, Hazel and Nate say the new album offers hints of a few surprising artistic developments in her sound.

But Radical Optimism isn't the only album out this week that demands attention. New records by the inimitable folk songwriter Jessica Pratt, and the always ambitious jazz maestro and saxophonist Kamasi Washington focus their own sounds in new and highly rewarding ways.

Featured albums

  • Dua Lipa, Radical Optimism
  • Jessica Pratt, Here in the Pitch
  • Kamasi Washington, Fearless Movement

Other notable albums out May 3

  • Willow, empathogen
  • Mdou Moctar, Funeral for Justice
  • Steph Richards, Power Vibe
  • Charlotte Day Wilson, Cyan Blue
  • Luke Stewart's Silt Trio, Unknown Rivers
  • 4batz, u made me a st4r
  • Camera Obscura, Look to the East, Look to the West
  • Ibibio Sound Machine, Pull the Rope
  • The Lemon Twigs, A Dream Is All We Know
  • Sia, Reasonable Woman
  • Chris Smither, All About the Bones
  • Frank Turner, Undefeated
  • Yuja Wang, The Vienna Recital