Nelly Furtado followed her ten million-selling 2006 album, Loose, with a Spanish-language record, Mi Plan, creating a vacancy in the pop charts that was quickly filled by Rihanna and Katy Perry.
Back, finally, with Loose’s “proper” follow-up, Furtado no longer fits into the landscape — this album's first two singles flopped — and is taking a critical pasting for a record that’s actually imbued with the same spanking pop savvy as Loose.
“Want another banger?” she asks at the end of High Life, a question she answers by delivering an album containing half a dozen effervescent club tracks. What’s not to like about Big Hoops — one of those singles — and its staccato, hip-hoppy celebration of huge earrings (naturally, she likes them “the bigger the better”)? But it’s the more contemplative, headphones-on tracks that make the greatest impression: Something is a cool, easy Salaam Remi production that’s warmed by a Nas rap, and The Most Beautiful Thing is an ambient, heavenly chorale piece. There’s a fair bit of “positivity” gloop, such as Believers (Arab Spring), but not enough to ruin a decent album.