Britney Spears
Blackout


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
October 30th, 2007 | 125 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If the Britney Spears Story doesn’t quite have the subject’s full attention, it’s at least caught the attention of some people, and the results are inspired.

Let’s drop all pretence for a moment. Let’s not pretend to be outraged by Britney Bitch’s tabloid behaviour; let’s not feign concern for the poor kids who’ve been turned over to the custody of Superdaddy Kevin Federline; and most of all let’s not hold the woman to some unrealistic standard of artistic integrity which she’ll probably never be capable of. Britney’s never been a particularly good writer, she probably can’t sing in key for any extended period of time, but what she does have is character. Britney’s nothing if not distinctive and she has the money to invest in the best songwriters and producers to supplement her own deficiencies. In the past, even that’s not been enough to guarantee a successful album: 2001’s Britney was barren with the exception of a couple of classic Neptunes singles, and ‘Toxic’ aside, 2003’s In The Zone suffered from a complete lack of memorable singles. Britney contributed eight co-songwriting credits to In The Zone; her creative input to Blackout is minimal- limited to two dubious co-writing credits- but the twelve tracks are by some measure the strongest she’s put her name to.

If lead single ‘Gimme More’- one of five tracks written and produced by Timbaland underling Nate “Danjahandz” Hills- is somewhat of a lethargic introduction/re-introduction (and who could forget that wonderful VMA performance?), it’s at least understandable that her “comeback” single would be one of the few tracks with largely natural-sounding vocals. In fact, Britney is arguably the least important thing about the album; her vocals are processed and robotised almost beyond recognition, and the majority of the backing vocals are handled by guest performers. Her most important role, it seems, was to be the muse for songs like ‘Why Should I Be Sad’ (Pharrell Williams) and ‘Piece of Me’ (Danja, The Clutch)- and again, arguably, she’s a far better muse than she is a songwriter. Think Nico in almost every way, except for the “extremely unlistenable” part.

At just twelve tracks and forty-three minutes, Blackout is as lean as the singer herself, and nine of those twelve are overseen either by Danja or Swedish pop duo Bloodshy & Avant (of ‘Toxic’ fame.) The result is a fairly coherent overall sound, at least in comparison to In The Zone. Both production teams loosely follow Timbaland’s club blueprint. Danja apes Tim’s sledgehammer beats and trippy synths with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but his main focus is the vocals, namely making Britney’s sound as little like the old Britney as possible, and supplementing them with as many contrasting voices as possible. The appallingly titled ‘Get Naked (I Got A Plan)’ boasts a chorus only marginally worse than the Tommy Lee/Method of Mayhem hit of the same name; the real star is Danjahandz, who effectively hijacks an unremarkable pop song, placing a reduced-speed ‘Born Slippy’-style soul vocal (courtesy of Corte Ellis) on top of a backing track lifted wholesale from Justin Timberlake’s ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds.’ ‘Break The Ice’ rocks a club siren harder than anybody could have imagined possible in the pre-crunk era, while ‘Perfect Lover’ is perhaps the closest Hills comes to actually highlighting the singer’s natural voice, her airy delivery setting the tone for The Neptunes’ low-key funk closer ‘Why Should I Be Sad.’

Bloodshy & Avant pretty much pick up where ‘Toxic’ left off, albeit with bonus Super Mario samples. ‘Piece of Me’ is the pick of the album’s pop songs, a veritable litany of musical abuse, admonishing just about everybody for just about everything. With lyrics courtesy of Klas Ahlund of Swedish electro-punks Teddybears, and guest vocals from Pitchfork favourite Robyn, Britney sings: “I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the rich and famous / I'm Mrs. Oh-My-God that Britney's shameless / I'm Mrs. Extra! Extra! This just in... / I'm Mrs. She's too big now she's too thin.” The track itself could easily be lifted from Robyn’s latest record- the glitchy club-hop particularly reminiscent of her recent US single ‘Handle Me’- and for the most part it’s difficult to actually distinguish the pair’s voices. While it would probably be funnier if Britney had written the track- God knows, she has no shame- it’s still occasionally laugh-out-loud funny; at one point Britney raps, “I'm Mrs. most likely to get on the tv for stripping on the streets while getting the groceries”- the punchline, presumably, being the idea that Britney gets her own groceries.

‘Freakshow’ is almost as good. The warring vocal lines and hammerhead chorus thump call to mind that forgotten hit ‘SexyBack’ and Britney, remarkably, seems to make for a more convincing rapper than a singer. (Plus, she’s totally believable as a peep show star.) The infectious club ‘Toy Soldier,’ a joint venture between the Swedes and Sean Garrett (of ‘Yeah!’ fame), is even more convincing of Britney’s newfound talent for rhyming. Along with ‘Hot As Ice,’ written and arranged by T-Pain and Danja, it comes as close as anything on the record to comic relief, at least of the intentional sort. These three tracks comprise the strongest portion of Blackout, both in terms of songwriting and Britney actually sounding interested in being there, but overall the album is consistently strong and evenly balanced between sexy club tracks and sexy pop tracks. Even the sole exception, Pharrell’s self-satisfied ‘Why Should I Be Sad,’ is better than most of the dross Mr. Williams has churned out over the past year or so- if the Britney Spears Story doesn’t quite have the subject’s full attention, it’s at least caught the attention of some people, and the results are inspired. The only question that remains, the rest having been answered, is whether this marks an actual comeback or just an excuse for another party.



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user ratings (251)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
zane1234s (4)
Britney has fun - and brings her fans along the way for once....

Nick Butler EMERITUS (2)
What do you mean there's no tunes?...


Comments:Add a Comment 
StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 30th 2007


3777 Comments


W0oo! I was waiting for this review. Thanks. It's Amazing she's still putting out music.This Message Edited On 10.30.07

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 30th 2007


4927 Comments


yeah well now that she doesn't spend any time with her kids, whether she has them or not, she has time to record an album!

Aficionado
October 30th 2007


1027 Comments


ughhhh

The Jungler
October 30th 2007


4827 Comments


ugh Spat Out Plath, you might make me listen to this album.

seriously good review though.This Message Edited On 10.30.07

Two-Headed Boy
October 30th 2007


4527 Comments


Excellent review, didn't expect any less from you.

Of course, Gimme More is one of the catchiest songs ever. But I can't imagine myself listening to this.

/generic comment.

tuff
October 30th 2007


62 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I really like Piece of Me, but I thought the rest of the album was kinda boring. Great review and such.

blackened07
October 30th 2007


949 Comments


People still like Britney Spears? No offence or anything I just thought everybody hated her.This Message Edited On 10.30.07

Correction
October 30th 2007


188 Comments


i knew you were gonna review this. blackened07, go listen to some metal.

blackened07
October 30th 2007


949 Comments


I'll get on that. I was making a serious comment though asshole.

Correction
October 30th 2007


188 Comments


I was just messing with you. Settle down.
As for the album, I'm never gonna get this. Ever.
/in line at wal-mart

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2007


15743 Comments


Think Nico in almost every way, except for the “extremely unlistenable” part.


Well done.


blackened07
October 30th 2007


949 Comments


lol

Jom
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2007


2690 Comments


Beautiful review... I almost, ALMOST want to listen to the stream.
ALMOST.

drewhnovak
October 30th 2007


41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is loads better than her first three "albums" (mainly a good single loaded down with filler), and is just a bit better than In The Zone. Consistency is what makes it her best. All dance songs, no sappy ballads (although Why Should I Be Sad could technically be called a ballad, it's still got a nice beat). Definitely going to be playing this one for a while.



Is anyone else finding Hot As Ice strangely addictive?

iarescientists
October 30th 2007


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I liked the first couple songs, but after that nothing really caught my ear.

/banned

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is a decent to good record.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
October 30th 2007


3777 Comments


Liberi's and Iai's still to come.


Yea, most stuff I've read says this album is at least half decent, which i was completely surprised by, so i was keen on reading something by the resident pop fllow here.

iarescientists
October 30th 2007


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i don't understand why people are shocked that this is getting good reviews, are shocked when they think it is a good record

Acre
October 30th 2007


847 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Well, sorry, SOP, I tried. I tried putting out all the terrible garbage I know about Britney (Believe me, I've had practice). Despite all that, I still think Gimme More is perhaps the worst song I've heard this year. I thought Toxic was annoyingly catchy. I almost don't mind songs like My Perogative. This is just disgustingly bad.

Maneater
October 30th 2007


24 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Toy Soldier is growing on me but the lame intro turns me off =/

First 5 songs and Hot As Ice are awesome.

I wouldn't mind one track like ''Everytime'' though.

My 2c



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