Christina Aguilera promised a futuristic sound for her next record, but one cannot know how futuristic she meant, if at all. After two killer albums, 2002’s confessional Stripped to the contemporary jazz throwback Back to Basics released nearly four years after, one would expect no less from Aguilera, but she unfortunately disappoints. It is ironic how Aguilera wanted to be different with this record, but in the making ended up with just another mainstream album out there, which is unimaginative, if not insipid, and merely follows a trend.

Bionic does have its positive side, the mid section of the disc centers on power ballads which are stunning and do showcase what Christina is known for. The startling ‘You Lost Me’, ‘All I Need’, ‘I Am’ and the gorgeous ‘Lift Me Up’, stress subtle vocal gymnastics transmitting a heartfelt sentiment; it is cinematic. These tracks do rate Aguilera as one of the greatest balladeers of all times, but the rest of the album just hinders them from their true shine.

Taking the uptempos into account, instant standouts are the cunnilingus inspired ‘WooHoo’ and ‘Desnudate’. ‘WooHoo’ teases the listener and it is inevitable to picture graphic imagery when the track plays with its roguish nature. Annoying newcomer Nicki Minaj shockingly suits the track well and is a great addition to the self indulgent, witty feel of the song. The full ‘Dirrty’ mode Latin flavored ‘Desnudate’ would have made a great first single instead of ‘Not Myself Tonight’, which despite it being listenable and nice to sing along to, its clichéd and sounds like any other regular Darkchild production; ‘Desnudate’ permeates a dance beat with a saucy Latin suggestion and heavy percussion, making it nearly impossible to stand still to. ‘I Hate Boys’ is okay but sounds like it has been done before, and ‘Glam’ is luscious but resembles Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ a tad bit much.

The interludes are absurd; they go nowhere and just work as more fillers other than their purposed preamble to the actual songs. The repeated sense of vanity in the record is dubious, it is either or a sign of pride or insecurity to re-state herself as an artist; insecurity is most likely, instead of convincing the listener, it seems as if she sings it to achieve self conviction. At a point she even blurts out at the end of ‘Vanity’, ‘Let us not forget, who owns the throne’, question is: what throne, or when did she hold a throne in the first place.

What nearly reflects the ‘futuristic’ description of the album is the M.I.A. assisted ‘Elastic Love’, but it seems like music the collaborator would release herself, consequently it turns out to be a placid swindle of M.I.A.’s sound; ‘Elastic Love’ literally drowns Aguilera’s voice; it does not even sound like her. A plus though, is the fact Aguilera does not over sing any of the tracks like she did in Back to Basics.

It does live up to its title, of an organism enhanced by electronic elements, as it entails Aguilera allowing her voice to be altered by audio processors and punctuating organic instruments in electro beats, but it does not live up to its hype. Alas the album suffered from a poor single choice and its prominence on style along the way. Bionic is not absolutely dreadful, it is just all over the place and rather dated. It results in a random compilation of generally unrelated tracks mastered to make up for an album. Christina Aguilera has great talent but whether she has creativity and knows how to judge the market well, is a whole different story. The sounds are diverse, but Aguilera’s vocals sink amidst the colossal production.

★★1/2

C.Perez