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Music Review

Ciara: 'Fantasy Ride'

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Ciara: 'Fantasy Ride'
Released on Monday, May 4 2009

Given its less than smooth gestation, Rollercoaster Ride might be a more apt title for Ciara's third album. Originally conceived as a 3-CD affair - take that Beyoncé! - it finally arrives in single-disc form after a change of management, a succession of flop singles across the pond and a six-month delay from its initial release date. In fact, it's pretty much taken Justin Timberlake and his 'Love Sex Magic' to get Fantasy Ride out of the studio and onto the shelves.

Why were Ciara's label so reluctant to release this record? Well, probably because it's a solid rather then spectacular effort that's lacking in surefire hits. 'Love Sex Magic' is definitely the standout moment, but it's unfortunate that its nearest challenger, a Danja-produced club track called 'Turntables', is a duet with public enemy number one Chris Brown. Elsewhere, Fantasy Ride features pretty much what you'd expect from an R&B album at the tail end of the noughties: plenty of electro-infused slow jams, a handful of club bangers and a whole lot of boasting. The nadir? This taste-free morsel from a track called 'High Price': "I should be in Iraq shawty, 'cause I am the bomb." Really?

Fantasy Ride's other stumbling block is its lack of originality. It features much the same cast of producers (Tricky and The-Dream, Rodney Jerkins, Polow Da Don, Danja, Dr. Luke) as countless other R&B albums from the last couple of years, but these A-list knob-twiddlers rarely try anything risky or inventive here. Equally, the lustre of the guest stars - Missy Elliott, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Chris Brown - is somewhat tarnished by over-familiarity. That Fantasy Ride features a club banger called 'Work', a slow jam that likens performing in the bedroom to performing onstage and a track with an 'Umbrella'-style "ay-ay" vocal hook pretty much says it all.

However, this isn't to say that Fantasy Ride is a bad album. It actually offers a consistently sexy listen with enough minor triumphs - 'Love Sex Magic', 'Turntables', the electro-scuzzy 'Pucker Up' - to hold your attention. Ciara, meanwhile, is on seductive form throughout. She may not have the voice of Beyoncé or the tunes of Rihanna, but she tops them both when it comes to cheesy double-entendres. "I appreciate your recovery time," she purrs on the self-explanatory 'Like A Surgeon'. "But you need a physical one more time." For keeping a straight face through that one alone, Ciara's Fantasy Ride deserves the benefit of the doubt.


> Click here to read our recent interview with Ciara

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