Shakira’s “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” review: A lukewarm serving of revenge.

Shakira’s rendition of “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” showcases a striking closeup featuring her shedding diamond tears, encapsulating her recent career trajectory. Following her 2023 release, “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol 53,” which ingeniously transformed the aftermath of her breakup with Gerard Piqué into a chart-topping sensation, she experienced a meteoric rise. Within days, the track became the world’s most streamed, shattering YouTube records for Latin American songs. Its impact extended beyond music, reportedly affecting stock markets as she lambasted in lyrics, causing declines in Renault and Casio shares.

Additionally, the cover art implies that Shakira’s “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” could be her pivotal breakup album, akin to Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” or Marvin Gaye’s “Here, My Dear.” This development could pique the interest of longtime followers of her career. Shakira burst onto the international scene with her 2001 album “Laundry Service,” marking a significant moment in 2000s pop music. At just 24 years old, the Colombian singer showcased a distinct approach to pop stardom, blending mainstream hits and AOR ballads with experimental sounds that pushed the boundaries of conventional music genres. Her repertoire included Gregorian chants, surf guitars, bursts of music hall oompah, and nods to Led Zeppelin. While some critics condescendingly questioned her grasp of English due to her quirky lyrics, a comparison with her Spanish-language songs revealed a consistent use of unconventional metaphors and imagery. However, following the commercial underperformance of her 2009 album “She Wolf” in the US, Shakira’s subsequent albums have leaned towards less idiosyncratic and more mundane offerings. The potentially vengeful mood of “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” may ignite her sense of audacity once again. After all, a woman who reportedly expresses her sentiments about her ex’s mother by placing a lifesize witch model outside her home doesn’t seem inclined to passively seek approval.

Unfortunately, those anticipating such outcomes should temper their hopes. Indeed, the album delves deeply into Shakira’s romantic struggles, spanning from the sorrow of a faltering relationship (as seen in “Entre Paréntesis”) to a candid listing of her ex-partner’s shortcomings (“Te Felicito”), to tentative forays back into the dating scene, riddled with doubts and fears, seemingly assuaged by the end of “Nassau” (“After doing it nonstop / We repeat it”). There are sporadic glimpses of Shakira known for her innovative thinking, evident in the lyrics of “Puntería” (which, if the record company’s translation is accurate, features the intriguing directive “give me your fire, squeeze my buttocks”) and in a moment when “Cómo Dónde y Cuándo” briefly flirts with a shift from a “We Will Rock You” vibe to raging drum N bass. However, these instances are scattered amidst an album primarily focused on traversing familiar modern pop styles: incorporating elements of Afrobeats, a grand piano ballad (complete with guest vocals from Shakira’s children), touches of mournful reggaeton on “TQG,” and an abundance of lackluster pop-house, drawing from both EDM-inspired and disco-influenced strains. The melodies vary from strong to annoyingly simplistic, none possessing a hook catchy enough to overcome the feeling of déjà vu. While Cardi B makes a guest appearance, injecting some momentary vitality by likening her anatomy to an empanada, the album is marred by the disheartening sight of a vocalist who clearly doesn’t require Auto-Tune submitting to it nonetheless, as is the norm in contemporary music production.

The standout moments occur when Shakira collaborates with bands specializing in regional Mexican styles, a trend currently gaining traction in the Americas. Notably, Grupo Frontera contributes to “Entre Parentésis,” while Fuerza Regida delivers a frantic corrido on the closing track, “El Jefe.” The latter is particularly striking, not only due to its explicit lyrics—”I work harder than a whore but I fuck like a priest”—but also because it feels unexpected. This venture into uncharted musical territory for Shakira suggests that her once-defining adventurous spirit hasn’t entirely faded.

However, if Shakira is still capable of producing remarkable music, why does she not do so more frequently? While some tracks on “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” leave a lasting impact, the majority tend to glide in one ear and out the other, failing to leave a significant impression but also not causing significant irritation—reflective of the prevalent trend in contemporary pop towards sublime mediocrity. Perhaps this is intentional. The album gives off the impression that Shakira has concluded that sales stem from playing it safe and that achieving success itself is the ultimate form of retaliation.

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