I had hoped things would turn out a bit better than they have done for Britney’s eighth album “Britney Jean” – the name has a slight ring of “Damita Jo” about it… perhaps the less said about that the better. It seems that the campaign is not getting off to a great start, and it’s looking to be getting lost in the Christmas rush without even particularly positive reviews to help it out.
A shame really because there’s nothing particularly wrong with it, I quite enjoyed it really, and at a very slim 36 minutes it doesn’t have a chance to get boring. However for an apparently more personal album, the sound is a bit scattergun and I struggle to find too many personal moments outside the will.i.am-sponsored club tracks. In the light of the huge success of “Scream and Shout” it was a sensible avenue to pursue but that’s starting to look like a bit of a fluke now, sadly.
07 Alien – William (not will.i.am) Orbit kicks off the album with a rare return to big artist production. He’s still got a bit of a knack for the subtle twinkly sounds, and that gives an interesting feel to the opening track. Nice enough song, but perhaps not substantial enough to be a single or anything.
10 Work Bitch – Wouldn’t this make more sense as an opener? It seems it was a tough sell to launch the album off this, despite it making the top 10 in many countries albeit briefly. Harsh and insistent, it’s a great statement piece – perhaps bittersweet given that the almost total lack of promo is likely the main cause for this campaign dying a death. Still, this is a max track and no mistake.
09 Perfume – Did an iPod shuffle pick this tracklist? Honestly, this album has no consistency. Second single now, I rather like it now. A subtle little ballad with more than a passing resemblance to Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”. The story is simple and quite sweet really, poor threatened Brit isn’t going to be a bitch about it, but that ex-girlfriend better stay AWAY. Lovely, even if the vocals seem to be a bit ‘head-cold’.
07 It should be easy – Yeah will.i.am is back with this cybertronic Brit-bot and the most terrifying auto-tune malfunction this side of Sparky’s Magic Piano. For fans of previous album “Femme Fatale” this is familiar ground, even if the song is as basic as it gets. Alright as a dance track but not exactly a brave new world.
06 Tik Tik Boom – At least here’s some consistency, even if she’s the latest of a long line of pop princesses to court more urban sounds this year. Did it really take SEVEN writers to make this, including the ludicrously repetitive chorus? T.I. doesn’t do much to save it, but at least it’s over pretty fast.
06 Body Ache – I’m not sure how personal this album is really supposed to be, this is a string of three straight club tracks without much scope for emotional confessions. This is about dancing for ages, she likes that apparently – I guess that’s personal? Again it’s struggling to get past the basic dance beats, I’m not in a rush to get back to this.
08 Til it’s gone – Oh hang on, this sounds like it could even be a single! Sure it’s not rocket science but it’s got a great bridge and a full-on chorus that never lets up. Lyrically it’s a bit lacking, but it reminds me of some of the hotter singles from “Femme Fatale” which is certainly something to be grateful for.
10 Passenger – Wow, now THIS is more like it. That creepy Indian-inspired intro with that gorgeously busy beepy intro is a wonderful start. Britney needs a decongestant but she’s giving it all she has on this loved-up midtempo co-written by Sia and Katy Perry, produced by Diplo. Big beats for the verses and a brilliantly anthemic chorus. I dearly hope this will be a single before this campaign gets wrapped up, if anything has the potential to shift the album, this has to be it.
06 Chillin’ with you – A downtempo duet with her sister, seemingly about getting drunk and having a laugh. For some reason will.i.am decides to add a weird tribal beat for the choruses and some wigga nonsense to boot. Rather weird idea to be honest, it’s not like there’s much for anyone to do apart from the Autotune operator. What was the point of this?
07 Don’t cry – A lone whistle kicks off the final track, quite sparse production considering there are six co-producers on this one. Is this a sign-off for the fans? “Adios, I’m out the door”, don’t cry everyone, we all knew this was the end. This album softens that blow, at least. A curiously lumpy end to an album peppered with frantic uptempos that only serve to make moments like this feel all the more leaden.
Hmm… well it’s not bad really, there are plenty of moments I don’t really have strong feelings for either way, but nothing I particularly dislike, aside from will.i.am’s presence as the link between all the worst songs on here.
Maybe it was just an album written by committee, I count 31 co-writers, nearly one per minute! Perhaps this overcollaboration (not limited to Britney by any means) has ironed out almost anything interesting this album had to say. Only really the Sia tracks (“Perfume” & “Passenger”) stand out as something special, maybe she really does have the knack.
I suspect this might be the last Britney album for a while, as she is about to embark on a lengthy Vegas residence. Hope that goes well at least… in the meantime, it’s a bit of a damp note to go out on for an artist with such a glittering back catalogue.
Keepers for the iPod: Work bitch, Perfume, Til it’s gone, Passenger