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Image for CD Review: Jennifer Lopez - Love?

CD Review: Jennifer Lopez -Love?

For many fans of Jennifer Lopez, Love? has been a long time coming. After almost four years since her last effort, JLo’s seventh studio album, and first with new label Island Def Jam is easily her finest. Full of fantastic production, great hooks, killer melodies and a constant narrative through the tracks, Love? sees Jennifer Lopez back with a confidence and focused direction that we have not seen from her work in years.

The tone of the album is set perfectly from the outset with the number one hit On The Floor. If you told us a few months ago that Jennifer Lopez would be the singer to release the most engaging pop release of the year so far, we’d have laughed in your face, but the single when held alongside Britney’s Hold It Against Me, Lady GaGa’s Born This Way and even Beyoncé’s most recent effort Run The World (Girls), is still the most instant pop track of them all. Where the others feel contrived and trite, On The Floor with its fantastic Lambada sample, is a club record through and through. Still sitting in the top 10 on iTunes in most markets, the song doesn’t look like it’s going away anywhere soon, and this is a testament to just how addictive the song is.

From there, Good Hit sees JLo in full fierce diva mode with the help with some mild auto-tune and a lot of swagger, further reminding us that she brought ghetto fabulousness to pop before Beyoncé started killing off the other members of Destiny’s Child and plagiarising songs. Second single I’m Into You evokes the same reggaeton flavour of Rihanna’s What’s My Name? but adds so much sexiness to the track you can’t help but grind your hips.

The album’s title track, freshly rebranded with newly placed parenthesis, (What Is) Love?, originally appeared on the soundtrack for Lopez’s most recent film The Back Up Plan. Co-written by Wynter Gordon, the song’s narrative seems eerily self-reflective for a track not written by Jennifer herself, as she questions if she will ever find true love. The song is obscenely addictive with a fantastic vocal and great hook. It’s great to see that the track has stuck around from the older writing sessions from the album as it very much deserves it place on the record.

From here the album takes an R&B turn for Run The World. The lyrics and production are pretty derivative, but for lovers of Rebirth, this will most definitely be a highlight. Papi is the spiritual sequel to On The Floor but with a serious Latin flavour. RedOne’s production is impeccable as he crafts a song that is a harder, and more mature version of the J.Lo classic Ain’t It Funny. The base line is thick and the song is completely club ready, but it does make us giggle every time the chorus kicks in, because I’m sure JLo is actually saying “dance for your puppy”.

The album’s only real slow jam comes in the form of Until It Beats No More and I cannot stress how much love I have for the track. The song feels like a fantastic blend of Rihanna’s California King Bed and Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry with a similar chord progression to Kylie and Jason Donovan’s Especially For You and is the most passionate I have ever heard Jennifer Lopez. Her vocals are crazy on point and the arrangement builds up to a fantastic crescendo in the final choruses. Easily my favourite song of the year so far.

One Love, co-written by Jennifer Lopez herself, has her rattling off her major failed relationships with P. Diddy, Cris Judd and Ben Affleck and then optimistically looking forward to her future with Marc Anthony, questioning if there is one love out there for her over an R&B-lite beat but it is Invading My Mind co-written by Lady GaGa and RedOne that is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. No doubt a Born This Way reject, Invading My Mind sees Lopez going back and forth between her natural voice and a heavily affected vocoder effect over a very hard beat. Not my favourite track on the album, but still better than Born This Way or Judas.

Villain, I believe, is the only song on the album that doesn’t really hit the mark, particularly because of its weak chorus that almost feels like it falls out of time, it’s heavy R&B beat will work for some, but it is Starting Over with its sweeping string section and soaring chorus that brings the album back down to its narrative core, questioning if love is really enough. Hypnotico, produced by GaGa, RedOne and Lopez, brings the album back full circle, mirroring On The Floor but with a much harder edge. A fantastic closer to an already great album.

Love? is undoubtedly the best release of Jennifer Lopez’s career, and probably the best pop release of 2011 so far. It is cohesive, very well produced, contains a strong narrative, but most of all, Lopez seems very much present on all the tracks, something that cannot be said for many of her contemporaries. The album comes very highly recommended.

Love? is available from April 29 through Universal Music in both standard and deluxe editions (with four extra tracks). Check out the fantastic video for On The Floor below.

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