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Britney Jean - Britney Spears (Review)

Britney Spears, Britney Jean

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

BRITNEY Spears describes her eighth studio album Britney Jean as her most personal to date.

Alas, those expecting deep, probing insights into the personal make-up of the singer a la Rihanna (who has previously painfully worn her heart on her sleeve) may be disappointed. This has far more in common with the high energy, dance-floor fixated work of Madonna’s Confessions On A Dancefloor, especially since that artist’s producer of choice, William Orbit, has an influence here on some production duties.

That also means that this is a slick collection of pop songs, with a heavy dance emphasis. Which, for the most part, is no bad thing.

But you actually have to wait for the final track on the non-deluxe edition, Don’t Cry, to find her at her most stripped down, vulnerable and intimate. In that song, she packs a potent emotional punch as she sings “you don’t have to see me cry”. And you can’t help but wish there were at least a couple more such moments.

However, Britney has long been able to deliver a compelling pop song and Britney Jean has more than its fair share of decent offerings. Album opener Alien being one such polished gem, shot through with insistent pop melodies and hooks and a really catchy chorus. There’s a melancholy undertow, too, that finds Spears lamenting the loneliness that makes her feel like an alien. But this is more about getting those hips swinging in unison than reaching for any emotional engagement.

And to be fair, there’s high energy, effortless catchiness and dance-floor filling capabilities surrounding a lot of songs, which empower, inspire and make you want to get up and strutt your stuff.

Hence, while Work Bitch is a typically provocative number that cheekily nods to her explosive debut over a grinding electro pulse, it’s also one of the least appealing tracks on the LP. The worst track, however, is the Ibiza/superclub leaning It Should Be Easy, which is just so darn generic.

If that entry provokes a fear that Spears has lazily sunken into a rut of depressing Will.I.Am backed electro-pop, she does keep the remaining tracks suitably eclectic.

Far stronger are the likes of Perfume or Tik Tik Boom, the latter of which especially carries a vitality and urgency that impresses. It is to the Spears CV what 4 Minutes was to Madonna’s, complete with guest vocalist (in Britney’s case, TI).

Perfume, meanwhile, recounts a dangerous love triangle and is filled with ‘sensual’ lyrics about marking territory with perfume and illiciting jealousy in a love rival.

The high energy club theme is maintained later on amid the souped up Body Ache, before the album slowly lessens the tempo towards that stripped down final track.

Passenger is a stylish power ballad co-written with Katy Perry, while Chillin’ With You finds her dueting with baby sister Jamie Lynn and mixing up the tempos, from chilled during the verses to something more akin to Gwen Stefani over the energised choruses. It’s effective, though, in making sure you’re still on your toes deep into the LP.

Put together, Britney Jean is a strong pop entry into a winter that has also seen new releases from Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus >I>and Katy Perry. And in fact it’s no small compliment to say that Spears may just have delivered the best and most consistent LP of the lot.

Download picks: Alien, Perfume, Tik Tik Boom, Chillin’ With You, Don’t Cry

Track listing:

  1. Alien
  2. Work B**ch [Explicit]
  3. Perfume
  4. It Should Be Easy
  5. Tik Tik Boom
  6. Body Ache
  7. Til It’s Gone
  8. Passenger
  9. Chillin’ With You
  10. Don’t Cry

Deluxe version tracks

  1. Brightest Morning Star
  2. Hold On Tight
  3. Now That I Found You
  4. Perfume (The Dreaming Mix)