GALLERY: The gorgeous Shakira's many incarnations.
Fijacion Oral - which means "Oral fixation" - is the Spanish-only Shakira album so many critics and purists have demanded for so long.
In a way, the cover perfectly sums up the mood of the album. Against a deep red background the pearl-blonde Shakira sits in a gauze lace dress with a naked baby on her lap, looking like she has herself been newly born, though fully grown and whole. On the inner fold-out black and white photo, bright orchid petals flow from her mouth as she sings, eyes closed.
You'll remember Shakira's hit off Laundry Service, the delirious "Whenever, Wherever". Though no track off that album had nearly that song's power and punch, the record was pleasing overall and worth owning if you were a fan of flashy, dramatic pop. Otherwise, the album was cheesy to average.
Fijacion Oral is a step in a much more entertaining direction. Shakira's vocals are suggestive as ever - deliciously so. All the silly sex appeal stays, in the hallucinogenic production on the opening track "En tus pupilas". Just for a laugh, here is Babelfish's translation of the first verse or two, which follow the French chorus.
"Before conocerte the world was flat / Although you to it discuss Mr. Galilei / and I got tired to kiss frogs in vain / But the blue prince never I found it / And thus you arrived / Giving back the faith to me / Without poems and flowers / With defects, with errors / But still on".
The single off the album - "La Tortura" (a duet with the husky Alejandro Sanz) - has the same kind of kick that made "Whenever, wherever" so unforgettable. With a bit more pleasure mixed into the pain, it's the perfect breakup song.
It's silly at times. "La Pared"'s overdramatic synth backing embarrassing, and at best dated. Tracks like "Los Imprescindible" - which, when heard in Spanish, wash pleasantly exotic moods over unaware ears - might be irritating if you understood the lyrics.
Without knowing what the words mean most of the album is pleasurable for Shakira's soft but powerful vocals, the slick production and the melodic songs, which are just on the safe side of exotic. Shakira even blends in subtle dashes of dance and evokes the mood of jazzy standards on the gorgeously old fashioned "Obtener un Si".
Nobody's voice cracks quite like Shakira's. Few performers combine innocence and sex appeal so comfortably. Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 should be more than enough to keep fans happy while they wait for the release of the English follow up, Oral Fixation Vol. 2.
- Jean Barker
Fijacion Oral is a very good Latin pop album. To say that I'm looking forward to Oral Fixation is a massive understatement.- Matt Cibula for Pop Matters
Shakira's bleating, biting voice is in fine form, and it gives the material an electric urgency. - Joey Guerra for Amazon.com
Shakira sounds like Cher and Hazel O'Connor, produced by Julio Iglesias. This may or may not rack up her tally of 25m-plus sales, but if there is a market for music for tapas bars with sexually frustrated customers, Shakira has it cornered.- Dave Simpson for The Guardian
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