Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado (September 17, 2012)

 **1/2 (out of four)

A Nelly Furtado album can almost certainly be measured in one of two ways: star-rating system, or level of nasal-ness. "Spirit Indestructible" earns 2 stars but at least 7 noses (out of 10, for those keeping track). So if you can't deal with a voice that sometimes sounds like it's suffering a particularly nasty allergy attack, this may not be the record for you.

For those who love some Nelly despite (or maybe because of) this trait, welcome! "Spirit Indestructible," her first English-language album since 2006's "Loose," also brings along another Furtado staple: completely infectious beats. Once the thump kicks in on the title track and others like "Parking Lot," you'll be doing some major neck-dancing at your desk (or elsewhere). She certainly hasn't lost her penchant for a good hook.

With age apparently has come maturity and a little world perspective. Self-help and life advice are the name of Nelly's game on "Spirit Indestructible," and she's sprinkled both throughout the album. "All I want is to sleep good at night, look myself in the mirror knowin' that I did right," she sings on "High Life," revealing that the trappings of fame aren't everything. "We don't know how much time we got left in this world," she croons on "Bucket List," encouraging listeners to "try every sport until you score a goal" and "follow the path of a butterfly."

After the wisdom has been dispensed, there are still a few sexy tracks ("Big Hoops," "Something") mixed in for radio/variety purposes. They've got pop, but not in the same mind-crushingly wonderful way as "Promiscuous Girl" and "Maneater."

And then there's "Parking Lot"—a track obviously about hanging out with your friends in a parking lot. It's both confusing and completely catchy at the same time. Isn't this what you do outside Denny's when you're in high school, not as a 33-year-old with a kid? I can actually see the music video in my head, and it hasn't even been made. (Hint: It very closely resembles Justin Bieber's for "Boyfriend.")

If I had to pick a theme for all the pieces of this album, it probably would be inspiration. There's an overarching calm behind many of the songs that we haven't seen since Nelly's early days, suggesting she's really come to know herself. It's certainly a good album, if a little disjointed at times. It's just not one I'd rabidly listen to on repeat the way I did with "Loose" back in college. (Eeesh, it's been that long.)

damoran@tribune.com  |  @redeyedana

 

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