Dua Lipa's Best Radical Optimism Song Is Also Its Most Scathing

Justice for “These Walls.”

For a record with a title like Radical Optimism, Dua Lipa’s third album doesn’t skimp on talking about non-positive things — like breakups. Pre-release singles like “Houdini” and “Training Season” offered an early look into the singer’s complications in romance, but neither compare to “These Walls,” the album’s surprising and big breakup track.

The mid-album tune is a bit of a trick box. After three heavy, rave-ready songs, the surfy and wind-swept “These Walls” first rushes in like a balm (production courtesy of Danny L Harle), lulling you into a blissful ease — until you hear its scathing lyrics about a relationship beyond repair. Lyrically, it features some of Lipa’s sharpest writing across the whole record — and is the only song tacked with the “explicit” label — which has made it a curious standout, and early fan-favorite.

In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Lipa said she wrote the song on January 16, 2023 — “a good day.” She said she got the idea of the track from being able to feel the energy of two people who have been arguing when you walk into a room. “Rooms capture things and they hold on to things,” she said. “I think this song is a really good example of addressing the inevitable, it’s that conversation that no one really wants to have, but you have to do it.”

The song opens with Lipa cleverly illustrating a couple that’s gotten used to shutting each other out. “Maybe we should switch careers'/ Cause, baby, you know no one beats our poker faces/ And when the night ends up in tears/ Wake up and we blame it all on being wasted,” she sings.

But the chorus is where she gets real, singing that “if these walls could talk” they’d say, “enough, give up, you’re f*cked.” She continues, “It’s not supposed to hurt this much/ Of, if these walls could talk/ They’d tell us to break up.”

Nowhere else on the album does Lipa sound as definitive and audacious as she does cursing up a storm on “These Walls” — which is saying something. When on the rest of the album Lipa is vaguely singing about getting “vertigo” while falling for someone, and yearning for a love that “feels like a rodeo” (frustrated critics are already calling Lipa a “no lore” popstar), the intensity of “These Walls” feels strikingly personal, and the opposite of “no lore.”

Of course, when it comes to pinning down the details, Lipa still leaves very little breadcrumbs to follow. (The only clue is that date, January 16, 2023, which is unhelpfully in the middle of a two-year stretch when Lipa was single.) But maybe that’s her strategy — when she does give a little, it ends up amounting to a lot.

Dua Lipa’s ‘Radical Optimism’ is out now.