Album: Shakira

Fijacion Oral Vol 1, EPIC
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The Independent Culture

With 2001's Laundry Service, Shakira became the world's biggest Latin female crossover artist, its English-language format establishing her profile as only a 13-times-platinum album can. Since then, she's written enough songs for several follow-ups, eventually opting to release two albums this year, with this Spanish-language set to be followed by the EnglishOral Fixation Vol 2 in November. The titles, she says, reflect her fixation with words and communication: "The word 'oral' means more to me than the literal translation. It's a kiss, the food we eat... even a microphone is oral to me." You might expect the sleek Eighties rock sound of Laundry Service to be toned down in favour of more ethnically distinct settings, but that's not really the case. Apart from her duet with Alejandro Sanz, "La Tortura", on which accordion and Sanz's spry tres guitar furnish a funky cumbia feel, and the bossa nova "Obtener Un Si", the arrangements are blandly mainstream, ranging from the brusque new-wave of "Escondite Ingles" and hard rock of "La Pared" to the electro-pop sound of "Las de la Intuicion". But, despite some intriguing lines (at least in translation), such as, "Don't talk in plural/ Rhetoric is your most lethal weapon" and, "I love you because you are clearly defined/ Like the soles of my feet", this seems an unambitious exercise.