If anybody would’ve told me that Britney Spears would release an album that I could listen to from beginning to end without skipping a track, I would’ve
jumped off a building given a very dramatic negative response to that comment. But she just did.
After releasing two singles that I neither liked enough to love nor disliked enough to hate, I was not checking for Ms. Spears at all. Blackout is her only album I can put on and enjoy myself—the rest just range from boring to bad. She just doesn’t do anything for me. She can’t sing. She can’t make music. She kind of trainwrecked her way through the latter part of her career. Her music is boring, empty, soulless pop fluff and I would just rather listen to something else.
But, on the recommendation of a very trusted music source, I gave it a listen. Femme Fatale is Brit’s best album ever, if not the best club-ready mainstream pop album I have ever heard. There are spots on the album that aren’t as strong as others, but truly no WEAK tracks where I need to move on to something else.
The album opens with her first two singles, “Till the World Ends” and “Hold It Against Me,” neither of which made much of an impression on me. After a few spins, they do settle in better and I could jam out to them in the right environment. She slows down the tempo for “Inside Out” which sounds like a bad idea for a club album. But the sparse production works. It’s sexy and comes with uncharacteristic (autotuned) harmonies I don’t expect from a Britney song.
Then she bounces back with my new gay jam for the summer with “I Wanna Go.” It is just so GayThumpaThumpa and the chorus makes me want to run out and take gay white boy dance lessons RIGHT NOW. The tempo stays on the Up with “How I Roll” which is my personal favorite song. Big bass + handclaps? Winning! I’d put it up against any banger Robyn put out the past couple of years.
The middle of the album rolls around…like background music. ”Drop Dead Beautiful” and “Seal it With a Kiss” aren’t bad, but I didn’t press repeat either.
She redeems herself with will.i.am on another bottom-heavy track appropriately titled “Big Fat Bass” which should be on every DJs rotation this year. ”Trouble for Me” keeps the bass going with some effects thrown in on the bridge/pre-chorus that I forever associate with The Cock on the LES, while “Trip to Your Heart” would be equally at home in a club, a lounge, or Armani Exchange, complete with a surprisingly sugar-coated chorus.
The album winds down with “Gasoline” which has good production but is kind of phoned in, followed by “Criminal” and its midtempo Madonna-circa-2003 vibe. And that’s not a bad thing—she does Madonna proud.
And Britney Spears does pop music proud in general with this album which could very well end up on my most-played list for the year. Well done, Ms. Spears. I’m not a fan of your career, but if it was all in preparation for this output, the wait was well worth it.
Score: 4.5 (out of 5)