Album review: Britney 'plays it safe'
What's hot and not in your headphones
Here we are, 15 years after Britney Spears' first hit single Baby One More Time, with her eight studio album debuting the day after her 32nd birthday.
I had my doubts about this album after being introduced to the Scream and Shout version 2.0 AKA Work. I did though have my fingers crossed that this might also be the long-awaited sequel to album Blackout from 2007.
The album isn't a disappointment but it doesn't live up to what I would expect from Spears.
Love her or hate her, Spears has well been known for producing innovative and ahead of the time pop music even if she hasn't been recognised commercially.
Blackout was named one of the most influential pop albums of the last decade. In a time when we had simple, almost bubblegum pop, she reintroduced the urban and underground club sound. Even Femme Fatale, which featured more robo-Britney than we'd like, brought faux-dubstep into mainstream music. The first beginnings of this can be heard in Hold it Against Me and has since filtered through to many artists including Flo-Rida and Selena Gomez.
Britney Jean does not follow this route. It is less influential and more play-it-safe with a few generic pop songs. Spears wanted to be more personal and to do this she has ensured her name is next to the writing credits on every song, and has enlisted artists like Katy Perry and Sia to help out.
The majority of tracks are produced by will.i.am with some by David Guetta and this club-banging and ear-smashing influence is evident in the high octane tracks Tik Tik Boom, Till' it's Gone and Body Ache.
These highlights of the album show exactly why Spears is needed in the pop-dance scene; once you reach the bonus track Now That I Found You, you'll be in pure electronic-ecstasy heaven. However, It should be Easy is less Britney Spears featuring will.i.am and more will.i.am featuring a computer trying to imitate what Britney Spears might sound like if she had her vocal chords replaced with a computer chip.
Moving on from Spears' best genre, in an attempt to prove she has a voice and some feelings, she has recorded some mid-tempo songs that, whilst enjoyable and catchy, don't really get off the ground. Chillin' with You featuring Spears' younger sister Jamie Lynn might be a hit with sisters or those wanting to relax with a few wines in the summer sun, but it still isn't Spears' favoured sound or niche. In fact, it really highlights which of the two sisters is the better singer (and it's not Britney).
The biggest surprise is the first track off the album, Alien, and I can sense this one being a single. With a simple melodic sound and catchy beat, I could definitely put this one on repeat.
Overall, the album does bring back some of the new-Britney-on-a-mission that fans have wanted since Blackout. It's such a relief to hear Spears in her element as the queen of electronic dance music, as none of her pop contemporaries (Gaga and Katy Perry) even try to touch this genre.
I'd like to say this is another influential pop album from Spears but she has played it safe this time around, wanting to deliver something more commercially viable. She has some great tracks and potentials for hits but unfortunately sub-par songs bring down the liveliness and innovation featured in her best tracks.
For fans, it's enough to satisfy their long-awaited-cravings (even if they will be crying 'gimme more') but for those not accustomed to Spears' music, I'm not sure if it will be their cup of tea.
In essence, a solid and strong pop album that outclasses some of her less experienced contemporaries, but doesn't deliver anything new or extravagant as expected from this jaded-matriarch of the pop industry.
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