Greeted with outright hostility and flagrant sexism upon initial release, Christina Aguilera’s second studio album has benefited from the passing of time. Although at seventy eight minutes it’s far too long, there are a number of tremendous singles and enjoyable album tracks here, not to mention its admirably stubborn refusal to settle into one genre in particular. Veering from arena pop to powerballads to heavy-rock hitters to Latin love songs, Aguilera’s record is all over the place and all the more fascinating for it. The underlying messages of female empowerment and self-actualized sexuality are compelling and resonate in just about every song, while Aguilera’s singing is, of course, powerful (albeit perhaps a bit overused on songs like “Dirrty” and “Can’t Hold Us Down”). This album is nothing like its reputation suggests, and is worth a listen for the uninitiated.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)