Britney Spears’s eighth studio album Britney Jean was available on iTunes for streaming this past week, just before its official December 3rd release date. And although some may dismiss her as a pop queen of the past amidst today’s attention-seeking stars, Britney Jean reminds its listeners of one thing: Britney’s still Britney, bitch.
Its first two singles, “Work Bitch” and “Perfume,” introduce Britney Jean as a dance record, packed full of arresting beats, sexy hooks, and bouts of sadness. With executive producers like Diplo, David Guetta, will.i.am, and Swedish House Mafia’s Sebastian Ingrosso, it’s no wonder that we see Britney moving further away from her early bubblegum pop and towards an EDM style more popular with today’s youth.
For those in favor of Britney’s transition into uniformly catchy club beats, the first half of the album does not disappoint. Tracks like “It Should Be Easy” featuring will.i.am. offer explosive and beautiful techno elements; the song seems to pack a dozen separate choruses into its three minutes and twelve seconds.
And the party continues on the pumping “’Til It’s Gone.” Despite the out-of-tune and robotic vocals in its bridge, it is easily the album’s most club-ready number. The production alone is gigantic. Deeply layered beats offer kinetic music that can survive close analysis upon listening with headphones.
And don’t fret, old-school Britney fans: she hasn’t totally ditched her sugarcoated pop roots. “Passenger,” co-written with fellow pop princess Katy Perry, pushes aside sex-crazed, dance floor-driven beats and calls attention to Britney’s desire for validation and love.
And yet, for an album Britney dubs her “most personal album ever,” these tracks fall short of true intimacy and any real emotional depth. While it measures up to the season’s competition, the highs don’t match her career bests. Britney Jean lacks the forward thinking, cutting-edge quality present in some of her past works, and moreover, it lacks a genuine presence.
A prime example of this is “Chillin’ With You,” a vapid duet with her sister Jamie Lynn which reveals to us only what color wine the sisters prefer. Similarly, the uninspired “Tik Tik Boom,” featuring T.I., shifts the focus to empty sex: Britney sings that she still wants to be “let up on it.”
At best, Britney Jean will add another party record to the table: one that will undoubtedly help carry in the New Year for fans and club-goers, not to mention jumpstart her upcoming residency in Las Vegas. But above all else, Britney Jean sees Britney sounding like the idea of superstardom: impersonal and overproduced, but still blasting out of speakers everywhere.
Top tracks: “Alien,” “Passenger,” “Body Ache”
Track to avoid: “Chillin’ With You”
Article by Haley Trap