From the first listen of Sex + Love (out today, , it’s fairly apparent that the singer’s 10th studio album is supposed to pick up where his last LP left off. It shares the same bilingual format and is jam-packed with similarly oversexed spanglish dance-pop. Only this time around, there’s more filler than killer and the contrast in quality between the very good Spanish songs and not-so-great English material is more striking.
Not that the album is terrible. Depending on what edition you buy — four variations (standard, deluxe, Target and Walmart) were released in the US alone — you can easily pull together six or seven decent tunes to blast at your next party. It’s just disappointing that Enrique has attempted to revisit a sound that worked at the time but now feels like unbecoming of a genuine superstar.
So what are the highlights? The Spanish language songs are essential listening. Singles “Loco” and “El Perdedor” find the 38-year-old at his most tender and heartfelt, crooning over melancholy guitar and simple percussion. The upbeat (and ridiculously catchy) “Bailando” and beautiful ballad “Me Cuesta Tanto Olvidarte” should follow those gems to number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Tracks chart. The former even has crossover potential despite the language barrier.
Enrique’s two high-profile duets also belong on your iPod. Jennifer Lopez collaboration “Physical” (a bonus track on the Target release) is a bonafide party-starter with the kind of anthemic chorus and sexy lyrics we’ve come to expect from the hitmaker. His subtle electro-ballad with Kylie Minogue (a bonus track on the deluxe edition) is more of an acquired taste but “Beautiful” is something of a grower and becomes sweeter with each listen.
As far as the plethora of club bangers go, “You And I” is the clear stand-out. The song’s romantic sentiment hovers of Ibiza-at-sunset beats, while the chorus is an instantly hummable delight. Dub step-infused single “Heart Attack” holds up well and Pitbull-assisted “Let Me Be Your Lover” is a not-so-guilty pleasure.
Sex + Love isn’t great but there’s enough decent material to remind you of what Enrique is capable of at full flight. Hopefully, for album number 11, Enrique is brave enough to shake things up again and go for a sound that doesn’t feel quite as jaded.
Pops Like: Euphoria‘s older cousin.
Possible Future Singles: ”You And I” and “Bailando” are perfectly lovely but something featuring Pitbull or Flo Rida is more likely.
Idolator Score: 3/5
— Mike Wass
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