It's been six years since Christina Aguilera made a record that would remind us why she was a perfect choice for a show called "The Voice." For better and for worse, the NBC singing competition is what the former Mouseketeer is best known for now. Bubbling over with memorable melodies, throbbing dance grooves, and dynamic vocals, her new album, "Lotus," is a good start in the effort to refocus attention on Aguilera's skills and scrub our memories of 2010's disastrous "Bionic."
Aside from the hokey title track, it is front-loaded with goodies, including the Gloria Gaynor-meets-Depeche Mode dance of anger that is "Army of Me," the kooky horn-and-yodel fest "Red Hot Kinda Love," and the impossible-to-resist exhortation to "Make the World Move." The piano ballad "Blank Page," co-written by Aguilera, Australian singer-songwriter Sia, and Chris Braide, is among the best performances Aguilera has ever put to tape. Two of her fellow "Voice" coaches pitch in elsewhere, with Cee Lo Green helping turn up the love on "Make the World Move" and Blake Shelton helping turn down the lights on the country-inflected closer, "Just a Fool."
There are missteps, including needless Auto-tune and a few of what sound like Rihanna or Katy Perry leftovers. And there are several tracks that sound mindlessly repetitive as sedentary listening experiences but will likely improve with the addition of a dancefloor, including the Max Martin-Shellback produced “Let There Be Love.” Welcome back, Xtina. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "Blank Page"