There is one half of a solid album in "A.K.A.," Jennifer Lopez's first new release in three years. The opening handful of songs have a satisfying boom bap and hooks aplenty, providing the zippy soundtrack for gearing up for a night out on the dancefloor. From the splashy opening title track, where slow-jam verse gives way to pumping chorus, to the earworm "First Love," which manages to be sexy and booming as Lopez rhapsodizes about how if her new love had been her first, she'd never have had a second, the "American Idol" judge sounds like she's having more fun this time around. She continues the mood with the pulsating "Never Satisfied," the playfully undulating "I Luh Ya Papi," and the hitching grooves of "Acting Like That." Things start to peter out when she slows down the tempo for ballads in which she admirably tries to stretch her girlish vocals but doesn't quite always convince, as on "Let It Be Me," a sweeping, string-drenched melodrama that sounds like the aural equivalent of a telenovela. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL "First Love"