This is a record that makes a case for how powerful a remix can be
Many a eulogy must have been written at this point for the unquarantined summers lost. To many, Future Nostalgia, which was released March of this year, kind of represented that grief. It was a club soundtrack without a club. The thing about a pop record is it makes you wanna do what pop songs tell you to do. And when an album makes you wanna tear the neon-lit city up but all you can do is stay at home, all you can do is dance in place.
In many ways, Club Future Nostalgia, produced by The Blessed Madonna, does all these things, but better. The remix album basically takes its source material and kicks it up a notch. If Future Nostalgia were an ode to the glittery bliss of disco and synth-pop, Club rockaway-leans hard into house and trance beats. Both records are precision-engineered to make you boogie, but Club has a way of making you wanna rave. Mid and uptempo tracks are loaded with adrenaline, meant to make you last through the little marathons of dancing from the PM to the AM as lemon-laced shots course through a body that refuses to stop moving.
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There’s a glamour to the album. The Joe Goddard-remixed opening track marches in and pulls away the velvet ropes. The Jayda G remix of “Cool” has major “Ever After” by Bonnie Bailey energy. And the rework of “Levitating,” featuring Madonna and Missy Elliot? That’s the very definition of a banger.
Two remixes of “Hallucinate” vie for center stage in this record—one beat-driven bop that samples Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani (she actually shows up in “Physical”) to great effect, and another propelled by hard-hitting piano. This record repeats songs a couple times, but the listening experience never feels redundant. Each remix has its own character.
It’s hard to understand why, despite the quality of this record, Club hasn’t exactly been received warmly. I’m aware of the fact that The Blessed Madonna (real name Marea Stamper) used to go by The Black Madonna, even though she’s white, which is… problematic. But I think the criticisms aimed at this record come from people who loved Future Nostalgia but feel alienated by the stylistic shift. That’s a valid preference. Still, I dare say that some of the remixes in Club, if they don’t actually stand toe to toe with their originals, actually surpass them. Zach Witness’s and Gen Hoshino’s reupholstering of “Good In Bed” effectively turned what was originally a grating ditty into a club jam. The Zach Witness Remix of “Boys Will Be Boys” charges in with a salvo of claps and dynamic percussion. The original song, despite its anthemic intentions, felt contrived—the remix solves this problem by introducing samba-like rhythms that actually feel empowering. I’ve also been seeing some criticism online against the Masters at Work remix of “Pretty Please,” which has this weird bubble-popping beat going on? It’s a little too in front in the mix, but that contention is a small one. Otherwise it jounces.
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There’s the notion that a remix can’t stand on its own, and necessarily draws power from its original. There’s wisdom to that, but Club Future Nostalgia helps us come to the insight that a remix can lift up its original, and at the same time be so well-made that it can pose as a singular work of art. While we’re out here making bold claims, it’s easy to imagine someone coming into Club without any knowledge of Dua Lipa’s work and still have a good time, dance like mad, and tear the city up. Because that’s what a good pop album does.
Words Jam Pascual
Art Alexandra Lara