Album: Shakira, She Wolf (RCA)

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The Independent Culture

Four years on from the double-barrel blast of Fijació*Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2, Shakira combines both language options on She Wolf.

This may leave fans feeling short-changed, as three of the 12 tracks are Spanish versions of songs heard just a few minutes earlier. There's also a significant sea-change in Shakira's sound, mostly courtesy of The Neptunes, which brings her more in line with the contemporary generic dancefloor electro employed by less distinctive pop divas. So when, in the forthcoming single "Did It Again" (surely a deliberate echo of Britney?), she sings "It's strange to find that I am in a place/Where I'm losing the direction of my life", it's hard not to be distracted by the irony. Not that she's abandoned her affection for ethnic flourishes: a track like "Good Stuff" may be routine crossover Latin electro, but elsewhere there's an infectious cumbia/dancehall twitch – not to mention a peculiar clarinet break - to "Long Time", while "Why Wait" has a distinct middle-eastern flavour thanks to the Arabic arrangement of Hossan Ramzy. By comparison, the synthetic electro swagger of She Wolf sounds fairly mundane, even garlanded with a surfeit of Shakira's little throaty vocal catch, a sort of organic equivalent of the auto-tune effect.

Download this Long Time, Why Wait, Gypsy