Sunday, July 17, 2011

The latina Madonna? Not quite....

....but Jennifer Lopez does swap styles album to album - much as Madonna did - but doesn't do it quite as drastically, except perhaps for her most recent, Love?

Her previous "Brave" felt like the feel of her first 4 albums blended and poured into a heavy dance album - albeit with lyrics that hardly suggested dance music.

With "Love?" she has gone right back to having fun - and this is a good thing.  Right from the opening trance-thump of "On The Floor", you can tell this is a record where she had fun again (something that is hard to say about Brave or its predcessor Rebirth).  From this auspicious opening it stumbles a bit with "Good Hit" - proving yet again that autotune is toxic in overdose-level proportions.  The collaboration with Lil Wayne on "I'm Into You" is ok, but the combination seems a bit strange all the same.

Mercifully, after this early stumble, the album kicks back into high gear with the mid-tempo thump-ballad "(What is) Love?" - which shows her voice off better than most.  Yes, Jennifer doesn't have a massive range, but within the range she has, picking a track that shows it off is essential.  Further proof that while Mariah Carey-esque histrionics can be impressive (and ear-shattering) they also aren't necessary to make good music.  Later on we have the dance-tune-as-marching-order "Papi" which is one of those inescapable earworms you'll likely find you can't get out of your head no matter how hard you may try - and neatly segues into "Until It Beats No More".  Many make light of her ballads being overly awkward - but she has learned from past mistakes ("Dear Ben" anyone?) and fashioned a fine "swooner" track - and for the 2nd time pulled off the "pick a song that shows the range she does have well" trick.

"Love?" does owe a lot to the production habits of RedOne, who clearly takes a page from the mix cd's of trance DJ's the world over and uses that style in his tracks.  The beats pulse insistently, the sounds wash over the listener like a tidal wave, and synth meets organic (the accordion on the opening of "On The Floor" for example).  While it may owe much to these tricks, it stands as a fine collection of of-the-moment dance pop with just enough balladry to lighten the surge a bit.  If this flavor of tune does not tickle your fancy, look no further.  If it does, give this disc a try, and you may yet be pleased with what you find.

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