In an ideal world, we’d award this album five stars purely because it’s given the world an album called Shakira – Shakira right after Beyoncé – Beyoncé. Sadly, glorious coincidences aside, we still have to listen to Shak’s new one all the way through, which theoretically should be quite a treat for us given we’ve always had time for the madcap Colombian and her bat-shit songs (let’s face it, most of She Wolf was a triumph).
It’s not a great start though, as Dare (La La La) is probably one of the worst album openers of all time – it’s as if some unholy mess of the Pitbull / Enrique mould merged with a discarded take of Waka Waka. Mercifully it doesn’t last long, as we’re straight into lead single Can’t Remember To Forget You, which serves to remind us just how useless Rihanna seems when next to our favourite Latina siren.
It’s a short-lived joy – Cut Me Deep is instantly forgettable, Spotlight tries to go for some sort of Taylor Swift vibe that doesn’t quite come off, and the less we say about Medicine with Blake Shelton the better. In fact, that Swiftian hangover is quite the annoyance throughout the album – The One Thing feels like it could have been on Red but oh, how one desperately wishes it weren’t on this album.
There’s a saving grace, though, and it comes from a surprising quarter. Shakira’s never really been known for her ballads, but they’re by far the best here – Broken Record is a treat, 23 feels like a stadium singalong waiting to happen, and Empire is the highlight of Shakira the album and possibly Shakira the artiste. These songs aside, Shak needs to put down the frigging guitar, get back on board with some shit-hot producers, and give us some of those crazy dictionary-bothering pop smashes again, because this She Wolf feels like its already been put down.