elly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” is pretty much in charge of my life right now. It tells me when to sleep, when to eat, when to brush my teeth, when to floss. In fact, just the other day I was in the middle of making a peepee and “Promiscuous” told me to stop. And let me tell you, that burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnns. I was just told by a friend to go see United 93 because it will “destroy my day.” Well, if Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” says I can go then I’ll go, but until then...
So, at the behest of my Sith lord master let me be the first to launch the necessary preemptive defense: Loose is not Nelly Furtado’s desperate attempt at a pop superstardom that has unjustly eluded her.
Yes, Folklore was self-indulgent (“Powerless”) and awkward (“Try”) and met the most appropriate of critical and commercial mehs. But it was mostly shit because it wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
Following her absolutely mesmerizing appearances on Ms. Jade’s “Ching Ching” and Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On (Remix)” (to make no mention of Timbaland’s underrated remix of “Turn Off the Lights”), Folklore’s Furtado-as-earnest-singer-songwriter was like Superman III: sort of enjoyable, but wtf?
The creative marriage between Furtado and Timbaland, though delayed, has finally come to fruition: she’s found the perfect collaborator to match her voracious appetite for all things pop; he, on the other hand, has filled the void.
Lost among the many subplots surrounding Aaliyah’s tragic plane crash was the loss of Timbaland’s true muse. Is it really any wonder dude gained 500 lbs, threw all his eggs in the basket of some backup singer named Kiley Dean, saw his Beat Club imprint crumble, and productivity decline? Not to mention idly looking on while younger, hungrier producers (Ye, Cool & Dre, Rich Harrison), some of whom were actually his protégés (Scott Storch), passed him in the right lane? Due in large part to his partnership with up-and-coming producer Danja (who assists Timbo on each of his nine contributions to Loose) and his collaboration with Furtado, Timbo’s experiencing something of a creative rejuvenation. And until Justin Timberlake’s forthcoming record inevitably says otherwise, Loose finds Timbaland at another creative apex.
Where Love/Angel/Music/Baby tried too hard to be all things to all Gwen Stefanis, Loose is focused in its schizophrenia. Furtado is creatively versatile where one could argue Stefani is merely a chameleon of fashion.
Take for instance Loose’s indisputable highlights: The wicked “No Hay Igual,” which finds Nelly and Timbo absolutely ripping reggaeton better than nearly everyone who actually does reggaeton, and the undeniable 80s dance-pop of “Do It.” On the former Furtado sings, “Huele mi cuerpo, tú me encantas, el tiempo pasa no quiero otro, no hay igual,” which roughly translates to “Smell my body, you enchant me, the time comes that I do not want another one, there is no equal.” (Thanks BabelFish!) On the latter she conjures the ghost of Vanity, weaving her wickedly mischievous falsetto through Timbaland’s synth splashes. The two songs couldn’t possibly be more different, yet the duo manages to convincingly pull off both of them.
The rest of the record finds Furtado similarly traversing myriad sounds and styles: the Rhythm Nation posturing of hypnotic opening track “Afraid,” complete with chanted group a capella vocals, the slinky bounce of “Maneater,” and the sullen balladry of “All Good Things” and “What I Wanted.” Yes, even the ballads are effective, most notably the sultry “Showtime,” its 6/8 shuffling beat accented by Danja’s programmed electro-smacks and Furtado’s intimate vocal harmonies.
Now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the clumsy lyrical stylings that have infected a sizable portion of Furtado’s work are frighteningly abundant throughout Loose. “Let My Hair Down” features such brainmelters as “Let’s start a frat / Gamma Gamma Gamma Phat!” and “I do like sports / But I don’t like wearing shorts,” but giving a crap is optional. Beat’s hot enough.
But the question remains: Will Loose transport Nelly Furtado from impish pop milf to that sweet Timberlake superstardom? The answer: most likely not. Loose is hardly the relentless radio-friendly fare “Promiscuous” would seem to imply. But she’s shaken off the disappointment of Folklore, forged a significant creative bond with a pop music force, and made a great record in the process.
Now free me from your grasp!
Reviewed by: Barry Schwartz
Reviewed on: 2006-06-19