Ciara burst onto the scene two years ago with her ubiquitous hit “Goodies” and its equally explosive follow-up, “1, 2 Step.” Those tracks alone were enough to push her albums sales past two million, taking her from an unknown to being the queen of dance pop. With her sophomore release, The Evolution, Ciara would have us believe that she is all grown up, and although that isn’t exactly true, it does stand as one of the best dance albums of the year. Wheres 2004’s Goodies was loaded with middling filler tracks, The Evolution remains consistent in style and quality.
In terms of dance-pop production and style, The Evolution is about as good as it gets. The album features production from the Neptunes (“I Proceed”), Will.I.Am (“Get In, Fit In”), Jazze Pha (“Get Up”), and Lil John (“That’s Right”). And Ciara has streamlined her style to focus on her main strength: the ability to come up with some serious club jams. Many of the tracks explode with enough force and speed to appeal to fans of electronica, breakbeat and drum ‘n’ bass. Opener “That’s Right” and “Bang It Up” are crisp productions that crackle with kinetic energy and furious sparks of percussion, and much of the album updates classic breaks and the sounds of ’80s hip-hop and electro.
The entire release bumps with exciting beats and catchy hooks, such as on the irresistible “Make It Last Forever,” which references Rob Base’s classic “It Takes Two.” The highpoint is the first single “Promise,” probably the best slice of sci-fi R&B since Aaliyah’s “One in a Million.” With its undulating mid-tempo rhythm and robotic effects, its stands out on an album that is full of standouts. The weakest points are Ciara’s attempt at depth (“Like a Boy”)-she’s about booty-shaking, after all-and the handful of slow jams are disposable at best, as are the brief interludes describing her “evolution.”
Still, The Evolution delivers what Ciara is known for: hot beats, killer hooks and club bangers. With this release, she’s pretty much earned her spot as the new dancing queen of R&B/pop.