Returning to the English-language mode that scored Shakira a 13-times-platinum success with 2002's Laundry Service, this is in effect a continuation of last year's Spanish album Fijación Oral Vol 1, their titles referring to her avowed interest in the process of communication. Sadly, she seems to be communicating rather less than before: aside from the opener "How Do You Do", which challenges God's flawed morality ("You've made mistakes, well that's OK 'cause we all have/ But if I forgive yours, will you forgive mine?"), and the concluding "Timor", a critique of our selective, media-guided compassion, the bulk of Oral Fixation focuses in one form or another on the same old business of romance and heartbreak that has been thoroughly thrashed out a thousand times before. Certainly, there are no notable new wrinkles added to the subject here. The broad variety of music that reflected her Lebanese-Colombian ancestry on previous releases has also shrunk to a more generic, all-purpose pop-rock style, with just a fleeting glimpse here and there of mariachi trumpet or Middle Eastern strings, along with a guitar solo from Carlos Santana so dull and uninspired, it could have been phoned in from poolside.
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