Oral Fixation Vol. 2

The English-language Oral Fixation Vol. 2 finds Shakira reclaiming some of the bite she showcased on 1998's smashing Donde Estan Los Ladrones? The Colombian rock goddess is making up for lost time: this is her second disc of new material in 2005. It's quite a feat, considering the four-year gap since Laundry Service, her scattershot, English-language debut album. Oral Fixation Vol. 2 is more mature and better focused than the spin-cycle pop of that 2001 disc. Kick-off track "How Do You Do" starts with a haunting reading of "The Lord's Prayer" before launching into a risky questioning of faith and religion. Shakira touches on the highs and lows of celebrity on a trio of tracks--the bittersweet "Your Embrace," the guitar-driven "Costume Makes the Clown," and the disco-fied, politically charged "Timor." Selfish men and failed relationships--two oft-mentioned topics of interest--anchor much of Oral Fixation Vol. 2. First single "Don't Bother" is a bitter ode to strength, jealousy, and survival; "Dreams for Plans" is a wistful collage of relationship memories; and Carlos Santana slides a sexy guitar riff under soulful standout track "Illegal." The purple haze of Prince hangs over "Animal City," one of the disc's most inventive moments. It's a free-wheeling melange of rock riffs, electronic accents, mariachi horns and confident vocals. Two songs from Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 make appearances--the somber "Something" and "The Day and the Time," which improves greatly upon its Spanish counterpart. Vol. 1, while at times enjoyable, was a portrait of a gifted artist struggling to keep her footing and retain her confidence. Oral Fixation Vol. 2 finds Shakira embracing the eclectic beauty within.
It's a wonderful sound.

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