The Spirit Indestructible Mosley, Interscope
Nelly Furtado has been putting out an album every three years like clockwork since the turn of the century. Her newest release, The Spirit Indestructible, is her first English record since 2006 (she went all-out Spanish on 2009's Mi Plan), and it's a welcome return from the Victoriaraised songstress.
After the commercially successful collaboration with Timbaland on Loose, Furtado turns mainly to producer Rodney (Darkchild) Jerkins' deft hand for an eclectic sound. Her small voice emerges like a towering life force throughout the album, whose themes revolve around nostalgia and celebration of the human spirit.
The record evolves slowly from conventional sounds on the title track to more eerie tracks like Something, to the Latin pulse-quickening vibes of Waiting for the Night and the languorous retro-like Circles. The 33-year-old reminisces about her musical beginnings in Parking Lot, finds her teenage strength on first single Big Hoops (Bigger the Better) and gets quasi-reflective on High Life, the album's only misstep.
But the album's best tracks belong to the collaborations: Nas shines on the Salaam Remiproduced Something, as does Sara Tavares on the diaphanous The Most Beautiful Thing, another Remi production that adds a Middle Eastern tinge to the already worldly collection of songs. All one can say is: "Whoa, Nelly - here we go again."
Kiss 604/Schoolboy/Interscope Records
The challenge for Carly Rae Jepsen following the monster success of Call Me Maybe - arguably 2012's biggest pop culture moment - was to steer clear of one-hit wonder status. She did that with another pop smash, the anthem Good Time, and Jepsen shows she has even more hits on her second album, Kiss.
The Mission-raised singer, brought to our attention by fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, delivers what fans are probably looking for with the help of Max Martin, Toby Gad and others: more effervescent pop, unencumbered by a plot too thick or too weighty. Bass lines and hand claps, please and thank you.
Good Time features electro-pop singer Owl City, a.k.a. Adam Young, and is the heir apparent to the radiooverkill throne. "Hands up if you're down to get down tonight," goes the refrain as Young shares microphone time with Jepsen against a heavy backbeat and an echoing chorus of "Ohhhh ohhh ohhh."
Call Me Maybe is here, of course, and remains the catchiest song of the year from this impossibly cute singer.
The duds on Kiss include Turn Me Up and Tonight I'm Getting Over You. They're both boring ditties about getting over someone by hitting the town. Forgettable tracks.
Jepsen redeems herself with the upbeat This Kiss, co-written and coproduced by LMFAO's Redfoo. Her slow duet with Bieber, Beautiful, is also a fine track, delivered smartly in a less-is-more approach.
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