Album Review: Britney Spears – Britney Jean
|Photo: Michelangelo Di Battista (Via WorldofBritney)|
Britney, Britney, Britney. The woman that practically defined what the modern popstar should be is the singer that, today, struggles to live by her own rulebook. Much more regular in the gossip columns than the musical appraisals, the hype for her latest record ‘Britney Jean’ has stuck firmly within her own fanbase. Thankfully for Brit, it’s an enormous and dedicated one. But with will.i.am at the helm, the man behind her last number one hit ‘Scream & Shout’, it has the potential to shift a few copies to the non-diehards too. If the music is up to scratch, that is.
Singles ‘Work Bitch’ and ‘Perfume’ appear early in the tracklist – the former having a lot more longevity than I’d predicted as it brags it’s sassy multi-chorus structure. ‘Perfume’ has never quite struck as an incredible song but it does highlight a part of Britney that hasn’t been present since her earlier days – an innocent, bubblegum pop-oriented approach. It’s that nostalgic Britney that gives ‘Britney Jean’ it’s one redeeming factor. ‘Til It’s Gone’ is the definition of what Britney should be doing with her dance-pop today. Instead of sacrificing her personality for the robotic electronics that bogged down ‘Femme Fatale’, the track is a stunning homage to old Britney and new. The intro and verses wouldn’t sound out of place on her first two albums, albeit with a little less production, and the exploding chorus brings her firmly into the modern day. It’s a triumph, miles beyond the rest of the material on the record.
‘Now That I Found You’ and ‘Tik Tik Boom’ stand out because of their strong productions, but other than that ‘Britney Jean’ is disappointing. An album that homes the genius of ‘Til It’s Gone’ really shouldn’t be surrounded by bland or forgettable tunes. ‘Don’t Cry’ closes the album and, alike a lot of the songs, has potential but lacks a big kick that sets it apart from anything else being released on a lesser popstar’s album. ‘It Should Be Easy’ is likeable but not a track that has you dying to come back and replay. ‘Body Ache’ could have been released by any other singer in the charts – it just doesn’t have any personality to it’s heard-it-before beats. The problem is that Britney has a massive standing in music and with that comes expectations, sadly the record is too middle of the road to keep up with the enormity of it’s highlights. Those standout tracks are quite something, but in a world where you can download a single track, ‘Britney Jean’ struggles to stand as an inviting purchase.
I wouldn’t accuse Britney of cashing in with ‘Britney Jean’ – I don’t think that was her intention. Instead, Spears now strikes me as an artist that feels obligated to release an album every few years to please her fans and, ultimately, because it’s the only thing you can do when your star is as bright at Britney’s. As much as she’d probably like it, working in her local Walmart is beyond realistic for now. The album is decent but it loses it’s charm rather quickly – there are a handful of great moments that sadly cannot eclipse the blandness of the rest. People will have you believe that ‘Britney Jean’ is awful without redemption – it’s not. It is around a 6 or 7 out of 10. The issue being, it’s a Britney album – an artist that should really be delivering 8s at the very least.
As Britney hints towards retiring after her Las Vegas residency, it’s clear that the stage is no longer her home and music doesn’t seem to be her passion and that’s okay. People change and grow and as an obvious homebody, Britney wants different things as she enters her fourth decade of life. The only thing that is left for her to do is release a killer final album that ends her career with a bang and not the whimper that ‘Britney Jean’ emits. Get on to the label Britney, have them hook you up with only the very best material with a lot more variety and let us all be reminded of the absolute treasure Britney is capable of being.
Photo: Michelangelo Di Battista (Via WorldofBritney)
Words: Simon McMurdo