After a career of producing albums in Spanish and English, 33-year-old Colombian superstar Shakira recently launched her latest album, which transitions frequently between languages, and pairs her hard-edged vocals and bubble-gum, sexy pop image with her signature blend of Latin beats and sultry guitar strings. As a result, Sale el Sol/ The Sun Comes Out sounds like a mosaic of Shakira’s music over the past few decades.

It appears that Shakira has moved even closer to collaborators in the hip-hop world, working with the likes of British rapper Dizzee Rascal and Cuban-American Pitbull. Both are well-known as figures in the hard-knocks hip-hop context, so it may be a surprise to see them singing next to the shimmying hips and sunny smile of the ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ star; but oddly the combination works.

The first single of Sale el Sol, ‘Loca’ is a cover of an old hit by Dominican rapper El Cata, who sings along for the Spanish versions of ‘Loca’ and 'Rabiosa.' René Pérez of Calle 13 steps in for the upbeat rap ballad ‘Gordita,’ where Shakira shows more tongue-in-cheek humour than usual in her lyrics.

‘Mariposas’ (butterflies) is upbeat, poppy and elastic. ‘Lo Que Mas’ has Shakira flexing her vocals and belting out a satisfactorily melancholy ballad, while orchestral strains, piano keys and strings fill the song with notes of longing. ‘Rabiosa’ is brimming with sex appeal, accompanied by Pitbull’s lazy chuckle in the English version and a Latin horn section. While ‘Devocion’ changes the mood, with a deadpan rock n’ roll sound, hollow vocals and snares pounding out a ballad reminiscent of pure 90s rock.

The biggest surprise of the album is Shakira’s decision to cover The XX’s heart-wrenching love song 'Islands.' It takes a minute to put together the pieces; but the pop instrumentals are indeed strumming out the bass line of the UK band. We can only imagine that the pop singer was smitten with the tune, although an explanation would be helpful. Too young and fresh to be a classic, the cover may be an uncomfortable listen for fans of The XX’s original.

Bounding back onto her rightful pop pedestal, ‘Tu Boca’ takes us back to Shakira’s comfort zone of joyful odes in the form of pop rock.

Sale el Sol also features a slightly rock-heavy version of the World Cup hit ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’, the upbeat ode to the continent that aired to exhaustion during the World Cup frenzy this summer.

Featured at the end of the album, Shakira’s Spanish versions of the tracks come off as even more fun than the English versions; full of energy, charm and sincerity.

After a thorough listen, it’s difficult to discern exactly what Shakira does best. Does her power lie in the fact that she continues to make the 90s look fresh with her midriff-bearing gold lamé?

No, this singer has got chops, as pop cheesy and over-stylised as her material can get. Her voice is unique, her energy and presence are undeniable, and she moves like nobody else.