Notification: This review is written by someone who never owns any of the subject's albums and is obviously not her fan. There may also be some mildly inappropriate vocabularies but Parental Advisory sticker should be more than enough to make it clear that, like Aguilera, I don't give a shit.
Starting off bold and strong, the high octave robotic title track Bionic sets high standard for the album with distorted vocals, banging outerspace synths, drizzled with haunting piano-- everything you could ever ask for the sake of being futuristic. Accompanying dance anthem Not Myself Tonight is more or less the safest first single candidate for its catchy tunes and diverse beats with plenty rooms to showcase her strong vocals. Futuristic business descends to hip hop culture in incredibly packed stomping beat sassy dancehall Woohoo Featuring Nicki Minaj, and if I sometimes still mistake those gunfire dirrty choruses for being sung by Minaj then I have to admit that, yes, bitch can rap. Inertia cannot sound any better in stationery-inspired Elastic Love; it takes a vocalist of Aguilera's calibur to pull off such spacey yet effectively playful and provocative choruses and bounce this tardy retro europop collaboration with M.I.A. to another level where I honestly believe that it could potentially be, with the right marketing, the next Sexyback.
Sexually charged Desnudate, as one of the most colorful tracks of the record, guarantees its Latina erotic nature with breathy Spanish moans and exaggerated bullfighting scores. Awkwardly contrived Love & Glamour (Intro) has Aguilera jabbering phony sentences that make no further point than appeared in its title, before proceeding to the surprisingly lightweight original first single choice Glam-- the mod fabulous fashionista's theme shimmering with finger-snapping flossy grooves while donning her, sorry, nothing so haute couture here, more like a cocktail dress, I'm afraid. The album's tempo keeps getting dragged down in the hard-hitting powerhouse Prima Donna, ghetto-style Cabaret overture that seems to do her voice some justice but spare the rest for being somewhat dull.
Morning Dessert (Intro) marks the significant change to slower pace which almost identically continues until typical slow jam R&B Sex for Breakfast where her softer vocals surface as expected, however forever its length seems like. Maybe it's just me who was born an innate sucker for ballads with nice flow, but Lift Me Up seriously got me good with its classic arrangement, from live drums and understated programming to breathtaking orchestra, paired up with appropriately sentimental vocal performance; write this down on her best ballads list now.
At this state of the album, there're such serious theatrical vibes I can literally picture Aguilera on stage, her lone figure touched by ray of light, singing this big ballads chunk that takes off the play's storyline with the new chapter of her life: being a mother in the short voice cameo My Heart (Intro) and the motherly All I Need, a dreamy lullaby to the baby boy in her embrace. Emotionally naked I Am is a free spirit liberated by Alice in Wonderland whimsy, lively uplifting melodies, and undeniably beautiful voice, free of heavy makeup and showy technique, which deserves to be appreciated for what it is. Soul ballad piece You Lost Me draws the melodramatic conclusion of smoking-gun love tragedy with every possible vocal acrobatics-- vibrato, falsetto, anything that rhymes with freakshow, you name it.
The last act brings the beat back but with flashy composition, or even effort to sound different, completely drained out, leaving us with bland girls-just-wanna-have-fun upbeat numbers like unmemorable cookie-cutter I Hate Boys and excessively Gwen Stefani-esque My Girls. The closing shapeshifter Vanity is no exception music-wise but saved by Miss, or I shall say Her Majesty, Aguilera's lyrical roller coaster ride-- putting her cocky vain narcistic self on display with mirror mirror and wedding tune references, scattered bitch bombs, and the surprising last moment; kudos to such an unpredictable comic relief closure.
Recommended Tracks: Elastic Love, Lift Me Up, Bionic, I Am, Woohoo, Not Myself Tonight, You Lost Me, Vanity
The first thing that comes to my mind after the first listen is that this woman really wants her work to turn out perfect. Despite the fact that every track is explicitly well calculated and executed, it's no easy job to stuff such large amount of songs into one harmonic long-ass record but, instead of setting out on a full-throttle experimental trip to the future, she manages to make it work and sound mainstream enough for her audiences with this extra story-telling progression that adds unique touch to the album. However, the perfectionism approach can unconsciously cause collateral damage-- her work can sound unbelievably soulless at times. The other issue that she has seemingly been struggling all along like identity crisis is, unfortunately, not likely to dissappear with this album either; to find your own sound, who'd have known that having extraordinarily capable voice could be such a pain in the ass.
That being said, I still think that this album is so damn fine and as always glossy as the bitch's signature cherry red lips.