The opening title track is limp rock, with a fuzzy electric guitar riff (by who knows who—the producers and guest vocalists are all credited, but none of the instrumentalists are, demonstrating convincingly that this is a pop album and not a rock record). The second track, "Loca," is electronic merengue, but it feels like it's playing at half-speed. Up next is an even more watery acoustic-guitar-and-piano ballad, "Ante de las Seis," and that's followed by another electronic, beat-driven number, "Gordita."
This is the first remotely interesting song on the album, because it features a guest spot by Residente de Calle 13, and he's jabbing at Shakira, speaking for (I'd bet) a sizable portion of Latin rock fans when he says that he liked her better before she moved to Miami and dyed her hair:
Shaki tú estás bien bonita aunque también me gustaba cuando estabas más gordita
Con el pelito negrito y la cara redondita
Así medio roquerita
Shakira tries to keep up, turning the song into a half-dirty (for pop) duo, but it's got nothing on Residente's back-and-forth with Mala Rodríguez on "Mala Suerta con el 13," from Calle 13's own Residente o Visitante CD. And the album's momentum sags a bit after that.
"Addicted to You" is an English-language song that seems about 90 seconds long; "Lo Que Más" is another boring ballad; and "Mariposas" is a Spanish-language take on the girl-and-her-piano almost-rock songs VH1 plays all morning.
"Rabiosa" is one of three songs that appear in two versions on Sale el Sol. This first one is another electro-merengue track, like "Loca" featuring El Cata, but this one's slightly faster and it could have been pretty good if Shakira's attempts at sexy moaning didn't sound like she was waking up from a siesta.
"Devocíon" is a postpunk track driven by throbbing bass and atmospheric keyboards straight from the Cure's Disintegration, and her vocals are probably the best on the whole record. This is the best song on the whole disc; for pure passion, I'd put it right up there with "Timor," the last track on Oral Fixation, Vol. 2, and the last track of hers that really surprised me (in a good way).
"Islands" is in English, all distorted keyboards and New Wave pulse; it's not bad, but I can't see it being a hit, 'cause it doesn't have much of a chorus.
"Tu Boca," which frankly I was expecting to be another drippy ballad, is actually another postpunk rocker, with tons of bass and a melody that reminds me of Natalia Lafourcade's second album (credited to her band Natalia y la Forquetina), Casa. Shakira even heads into Natalia's upper-register vocal territory on a few lines. This song and "Devocíon" are the two keepers.
The last song on the album proper is "Waka Waka (Esto Es Africa)," and I have nothing to say about that.
The bonus tracks are a remix of "Loca" featuring formerly-overrated, now-forgotten UK "grime" rapper Dizzee Rascal; a remix of "Rabiosa" featuring Pitbull; and an English-language version of "Waka Waka." None of them are particularly good. I used to like Pitbull a lot, but he'll appear on just any damn thing these days, and he always sounds the same. He hasn't been at full strength since his second album, El Mariel.
This is a short album (without the three bonus tracks, it'd be less than 40 minutes long) and not a particularly good one. Two genuine keepers ("Devocíon," "Tu Boca") and one mildly diverting novelty ("Gordita") out of 15 is not nearly enough to make Sale el Sol worth your money.