Take one Grammy Award-winning, multi-talented singer-songwriter, one equally talented super-producer and a dozen irresistible hooks, and you have a winner, right? That formula took Nelly Furtado to the top of the charts with her 2006 album “Loose,” but it does not quite work on her newest album, “The Spirit Indestructible.”
On “The Spirit Indestructible,” Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins has taken over the role that Timbaland played on “Loose.” Furtado’s own songwriting has improved, and her musical creativity is more adventurous than ever before. So what exactly is holding this new record back from being as successful as its predecessor? In short, “The Spirit Indestructible” lacks anything particularly noteworthy or innovative to elevate it above the status of an average pop album.
The album’s finest moments all occur during its first half and render the last 45 minutes of the record essentially useless. Two of the album’s singles, “Big Hoops (The Bigger The Better)” and “Parking Lot,” represent a natural progression in Furtado’s music without sacrificing modern relevance. Other highlights include “Something” and “Hold Up.”
The most outstanding track on the album is the third song, “High Life,” which features everything that makes Furtado a great pop artist and highlights her genre-bending sensibilities. The track also makes the most of Furtado’s new, somewhat more nasally, singing style.
Conversely, the album’s least successful moments come when Furtado’s voice becomes so grating that it overpowers even Darkchild’s most bombastic soundscapes. One example of this is the title track, where the inspirational message of the lyrics is negated by the nearly unlistenable vocal performance.
The fact that “The Spirit Indestructible” runs well over one hour also gives the impression that Furtado took an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to the album’s structure. Had the structure been cut by 40 percent and the production been slightly less Darkchild-centric, not only would this be a much stronger release for Furtado creatively, but it also might have eliminated the perception that she is attempting to recapture the success of “Loose.” While “The Spirit Indestructible” is not a terrible album, it’s certainly not likely to stand out in a back catalogue as strong and diverse as Furtado’s.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 18 print edition. Del Patton is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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