Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Shakira - Oral Fixation Vol. 2

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The woman is quite barmy. Endearingly so. But what people tend to dismiss, or ignore altogether, is that fact that in a world filled with by-the-numbers pop by pretty faces Shakira is not content to follow the path well-trodden. No, she wants to come up with something unique. Until now, this attitude has been watered down for her "English" releases, but now, with Oral Fixation Vol. 2, Shakira has finally let loose for the English speaking world.

Take the opening track How Do You Do; what other pop artist would dream of starting their album with a souped up version of the Lord's prayer sung by some form of Gergorian choir? I think you know the answer is no-one. But the madness doesn't stop there. Stacatto guitars, and a chorus seemingly embellished with backing vocals from a baby...and yes, we're still only on the first track!

Things don't calm down either. Lead single Don't Bother is pretty much a "Whenever Wherever 2006" lyrically, although with added bile (and really love, you don't need to move to a communist country to please me, Wigan will do). Album-ender Timor sees a childrens choir pitted against synth drums that were already out of fashion in the 1980's whilst Your Embrace isn't a million miles away from the modern Nashville sound.

When it works, Animal City or Hey You, Shakira's bold attempts to defy catergorisation lead to some perfect pop monents. However it would be fair to say that she doesn't always hit the mark. Illegal, featuring the smooth guitar skills of Carlos Santana, is one such example and Something is just a trifle dull.

So whilst this is a little hit and miss, such a scatter-gun approach is always likely to be. But considering just how safe most pop stars play it these days such an approach should be welcomed (especially as you wonder just how the record company let her get away with it). There's nothing else quite like a Shakira record, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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