After her last solo record Bionic turned out to be a critical and commercial disaster, Christina Aguilera’s latest release, Lotus, disappoints stylistically but is an improvement nonetheless.
Between Bionic and Lotus, Aguilera claims to have experienced a “rebirth” of sorts, resulting from her divorce and her role as judge on NBC’s The Voice. Unfortunately, there are so few new elements on the rest of Lotus that her rebirth is ultimately stifled. The dance-poppy, electronic production of Bionic is still present this time around, making tracks like “Army of Me” and “Red Hot Kinda Love” merely fun and unsubstantial fluff. Hypersexual lyrics are also dispersed throughout Lotus, leaving unsuspecting and innocent pop fans perturbed with lines like “Hit the right spot/Make my eyes roll back” in “Let There Be Love.”
Unsurprisingly, two of the album’s strongest moments are the back-to-back ballads, “Sing for Me” and “Blank Page.” Echoing some of Aguilera’s greatest hits (“Beautiful,” “Hurt,” “I Turn to You”), Aguilera’s unbelievable vocalizations are always a treat to hear, despite the songs’ lyrical and thematic unoriginality.
The standout track, “Just a Fool,” an unlikely duet with country star and fellow judge on The Voice, Blake Shelton, is clearly superior to “Make the World Move,” the other collaboration on the album with another co-judge, Cee Lo Green. The lush harmonies, powerhouse belting, and melancholy melody on “Fool” make the other tracks seem simplistic. As the last song on the album, the power-ballad proves that Aguilera sounds best when she keeps it simple and prioritizes her vocal ability. As evidenced by her most successful (and aptly titled) album, Xtina should focus not on reinvention but rather on going Back to Basics.