Last July, Hilary Duff released Chasing the Sun, a song that was believed to have been the lead single off of her new album, her first since 2007’s Dignity. The cheerful melody was a bubbly but generic number and many fans were left a little disappointed. The problem wasn’t that it wasn’t catchy though — because it was, to a certain extent — but that it didn’t stray far from Duff’s past works. After seven years, one would hope that the pop star, who had gone through some pretty big changes like becoming a mother and going through a big breakup, would have developed a little more, musically. But nope, Chasing the Sun maintained the doe-eyed optimism that we remembered best from Duff’s Lizzie McGuire days and, well, most of those fans are adults now.
A month later, Duff followed that up with All About You, which made some strides. The banjo-led anthem had a stomping beat and a better melody, but still pegged Duff in the adult contemporary singer-songwriter role, something that Duff can undoubtedly do with ease, but there’s an unshakable feeling that she’s just not pushing herself far enough. Hilary Duff can do more! We just know it!
In the end, All About You failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart (it did enter the Mainstream Top 40, though) and Duff went into hibernation for the next seven months. Whether Duff took that time to focus on her new TV show Younger or to head to the studio to do some rerouting of her sound due to the lukewarm response to her singles, we’re glad she’s taking her time.
This week, Duff released another new track called Sparks and we think Duff has finally found her footing on this song. To start: Sparks is a dance track. Finally, some energy! The whistling can be a bit divisive (we’re personally fans of it), but the synth-pop route is definitely an updated version of Hilary Duff, one that has a serious chance at making an impression in 2015. The track was also co-written by Swedish star Tove Lo who has had a solid string of hits this past year.
“The album has taken on a lot of different lives, which I guess is to be expected when you’ve taken such a big break,” she told Time in an interview. “It is a little big of electro-pop, a lot of it is just straight-forward pop and some of it has gotten pretty dance-y, which is cool. Some songs still have a little bit of a folky side.”
Together, Duff and Lo have come up with a new and improved sound that’s confident, daring, sexy and truly representative of where Duff is in her life right now. She’s starting a new, exciting chapter and that deserves a fresh new soundtrack — Sparks is just that.
If Duff’s new album (titled This Heart) is as much of a grab bag as she makes it out to sound, we’re nervous to see if anything akin to Chasing the Sun will make the cut, but we’re also super excited to hopefully hear some more songs that sound like Sparks. Either way, we’re cheering on Hilary Duff because we want her to have the best comeback possible.