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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Shakira

By Phil Freeman
Published December 15, 2006

Oral Fixation Vol. 2
Epic

Shakira was great four albums ago, on Donde Estas Los Ladrones?. Latin rhythms, Middle Eastern hooks and alt-rock guitar formed a sturdy platform for her Alanis-esque vocals. But then, like so many non-celebrity Latinas before her, she moved to Miami and dyed her hair blonde, and now it’s all but over. Her lyrics are frequently embarrassing— diary tearsheets from an ESL narcissist—and her music has become excessively informed by American rock radio. When not stealing a bridge from John Lennon, she’s lifting guitar sounds from the Cure (“Don’t Bother”) and even, horror of horrors, Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians (opener “How Do You Do,” on which Shakira talks to God). This album isn’t a total wash; “Animal City” (about the perils of fame and fake friends) has almost enough ’80s-metal riff-power to sell the words, and closing track “Timor” is a New Order-esque dancefloor shaker with real verbal bite: “It’s alright, it’s alright/If the news says half the truth,” she sings, “Hearing what we want is the secret to eternal youth.” But Vol. 1, in Spanish, was the keeper.