Is this Britney's "most personal record yet" as promised?
After a more than two-and-a-half-year wait since 2011's Femme Fatale, Britney Spears has officially returned to the pop music game with the release of her eighth studio album, Britney Jean. Promoted as her "most personal record yet," the will.i.am-executive-produced set made the #BritneyArmy stand at attention, intrigued by the idea that they were about to access a new level of intimacy with their idol. Does the album deliver on this promise?
Well, yes and no. Tracks like "Passenger" and "Perfume" conjure up the same kind of behind-closed-doors vulnerability we know from "Everytime," and "Alien" offers "Piece Of Me"-style insights on fame. Moving away from the lyrics, the melisma featured on "Don't Cry" is so reminiscent of the ...Baby One More Time era, that it may just break your heart -- starting from the bottom, naturally.
But then, how do you solve a problem like "Work B**ch"? Obviously, the unapologetic club banger is a flawless addition to the four-on-the-floor-ney canon, but the dominatrix fantasy is anything but "personal," at least in any conventional sense. So maybe the real problem isn't that Britney Jean falls short of its "most personal record yet" promise, and more so that such a promise should never have been chosen as the record's selling point? Remember, selling you the fantasy has always been one of Britney's strengths.
That, and the fact that on at least four of her albums (Britney, In The Zone, Blackout, Femme Fatale), she has assembled a truly stellar team to craft boundary-pushing pop gold. While Britney Jean does incorporate intriguing sonic elements like 8-bit video game samples and '90s house throwback chords, neither of those additions are as forward-thinking as, say, the infusion of dub-step into Femme Fatale back in 2011.
Lady Gaga is the most recent artist to dabble with gaming sound effects (check out the "Sonic The Hedgehog" whirs in verse two of "Venus"), and Katy Perry slayed the CeCe Peniston game with "Walking On Air." Hell, Azealia Banks' FANTASEA mixtape experimented with both postmodern pop elements, and that was released back in the summer of 2012.
Regardless, while Britney Jean may not usher us into the future of pop, the result is a solid 10-song track list (or 14 if you nabbed the deluxe edition) that takes everything you love about this present pop moment, and wraps it all up in a pretty flawlessly tied Britney bow. The record may not be as revolutionary as some of its predecessors, but -- HELLO -- B-girl ain't lost the beat. Now, let's jump over drama, land on our feet, and review each track one by one through the magic of Britney GIFs.
It's rare that you get an album opener that both sets the mood effectively and could be released as a stand-alone track on its own merits. Through its hypnotizing instrumental and ethereally altered "ooh" vocals, "Alien" does just that.
Its lyrics could describe the isolation that comes with fame, or perhaps the loneliness that stems from simply being single: "There was a time I was one of a kind/ Lost in a world of me, myself, and I/ Was lonely then/ Like an alien." Either way, the Britney stream -- you're entering it.
2.) "Work B**ch"
Whether you're talking about Britney Jean's lead single itself or the Ben Mor-directed video, one thing is clear: "Work Bitch" is DIZZYING. From the revved-up pulsing synth to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it quick cuts -- not to mention that #sharkweek tension, MERCY! -- the track will make you wanna pass out harder than Liza Minnelli at the end of "Mein Herr," even if you were just sitting on your ass listening. To paraphrase literally anybody who just saw "Paris Is Burning" for the first time: WORK, B**CH.
Read the rest of our track-by-track review of Britney Spears' Britney Jean after the jump.