"I'm crazy, but you like it," whoops Shakira on her new single, "Loca." Nuttiness has always been part of her appeal, with a warbling voice and lyrics that border on surreal. (She once compared herself to "a coffee machine in an office.") But mostly, her new album is businesslike, serious, sane. The music blends Latin rhythms, clubland electronica and lots of rock guitar.
On last year’s zany She Wolf, Shakira made a move toward the American dance floor. This time she sticks closer to home, recruiting Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 and the Dominican rapper El Cata. Yet Sale el Sol still demonstrates Shakira’s boldly global mindset: On ”Mariposas,” she breezes through a melody Hall & Oates might admire, while ”Tu Boca” sounds like English post-punk (Nuevo Order?).
Hot on the heels of the gloriously weird commercial stiff She Wolf, Shakira wrote and recorded “Waka Waka,” a football anthem that swept the globe during the throes of 2010 World Cup fever. “Waka Waka” provided the perfect pivot to the quickly recorded new album Sale el Sol, a set that shows no allegiance to any one sound or language. Shakira mostly ditches the electro-throb of She Wolf in favor for a pan-global approach that’s decidedly pop in flavor, sometimes riding heavy rhythms -- Pitbull and Dizzee Rascal do show up on bonus English-language versions of “Loca” and “Rabiosa” -- but always relying on melody and texture, creating a tight 12-track record that’s casual in its eclecticism but no less dazzling because of its relaxed tone.