Ever since Nelly Furtado appeared on the remix of Missy Elliott‘s “Get Your Freak On,” people have been clamoring for her to work with Timbaland and create some magic. On Loose, Furtado’s third album, she teams up with the master beat-maker and fulfills that promise. Despite moments of sheer brilliance, the album isn’t the grand slam of recent high-profile Timbaland collaborations (Justin Timberlake’s Justified and Brandy’s Aphrodisiac), but it succeeds in reinvigorating Furtado’s career with some classic material and broadening her sound into the area of dance pop.


Timbaland’s stamp is felt throughout Loose, but not in the way you would expect. The sound here is less futuristic hip-hop and more ’80s synth pop, referencing Madonna and other ’80s icons. But the sound is adventurous, thanks to Furtado’s multi-ethnic touches, including folk instruments and Spanish.


Loose‘s first single, “Promiscuous,” is a giddy club anthem that recalls tracks such as “I Got a Man” and LL Cool J’s “Doin It,” but the exotic vibe to the production makes it relevant. There is plenty to enjoy here, from the intergalactic reggaeton of “No Hay Igual” to the Middle Eastern sway of “Wait for You.” Furtado is adept at writing pop melodies, and each track is distinct and surprisingly heartfelt in its lyrical content. “Showtime,” one of the tracks not produced by Timbaland, is a standout that actually fits right in with the album’s sonic themes. Things fall apart with the cheesy “Te Busque,” a bid for the Latin market.


Some may have expected an all-out dance marathon from a Nelly Furtado/Timbaland collaboration, but the album is, in fact, a retro-leaning pop affair with several moments of creative exuberance. There is nothing awful here, but Loose never meets the dizzyingly high expectations it was saddled with. Still, the best material here is exceptional pop that will invariably win Furtado some new fans.


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