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Album Review

Ciara, 'Basic Instinct'

December 13, 2010

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Ciara’s successful single from her fourth disc, the bump-and-grind “Ride,’’ was helped by its eye-popping video featuring the sexy singer tapping into men’s basic instincts. There better be a lot more videos like that to ramp up interest for the songs on this safe, rote effort. It’s too bad that Ciara has retreated from the ambitious (albeit unfocused) direction of last year’s “Fantasy Ride.’’ The sprawling, hip-hop-influenced set disappointed commercially, which probably explains her choices here. The singer works with hit-makers The-Dream and Tricky Stewart on several tracks; unfortunately, it seems they’ve saved their best hooks for their next gig. Some songs are tart and have attitude (“Basic Instinct [U Got Me],’’ “Girls Get Your Money’’) but many are nondescript. The emotionally demanding cuts, “Speechless’’ and “I Run It,’’ lack conviction. The real problem is Ciara’s thin voice, which often evokes Janet Jackson. Like Jackson, though, CiCi needs great grooves and thrilling production to mask her limited range — and she gets them only intermittently, as on the bass-heavy “Gimme Dat,’’ and ace club anthem “Turn It Up,’’ with Usher. (Out tomorrow) KEN CAPOBIANCO

ESSENTIAL “Ride’’