Album review: Christina Aguilera's 'Bionic'
On "Elastic Love," the fourth cut on "Bionic," Christina Aguilera's new set of postmodern future-pop, the vocalist sings in monotone and then stretches her voice over a seductively lashing beat from British producer Switch. His frequent collaborator, M.I.A., also appears on the track, though it's nearly impossible to tell whether it's her or Aguilera singing on any given verse.
This should signal how far Aguilera wants to wander from her traditional reputation as the ratty-tatty diva of vocal runs, or her spell as a piano bar chanteuse. Say what you want about M.I.A.'s Maya Arulpragasam — and this is not meant as another order of fries in the overblown Trufflegate saga — but vocal power has never been her strong suit.
Which isn't to say that Aguilera's voice doesn't have some obvious showcases on "Bionic." "Lift Me Up," an "American Idol"-ready ballad written by old pal Linda Perry, is a classic demonstration of the singer's range from tender to throaty. But for the most part — and in the album's most successful vein — Aguilera plays a hyper-sexed lover bot ready to tie you to the bed posts rather than tie your ears into knots with a well-executed legato.
Other ideas are also in play on "Bionic," including the sumptuous bedroom purrs of "Sex for Breakfast" and some redundantly vampy tracks with producer Tricky, but her dominant message, helped by collaborators like Le Tigre and Peaches, seems to be clear: Lady Gaga isn't the only one who's got friends in Williamsburg.
Three stars (Out of four)
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