Britney Spears
Britney Jean


2.0
poor

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
December 4th, 2013 | 86 replies


Release Date: 12/03/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 1. Write album about personal feels 2. Hire will.i.am as executive producer 3. ???? 4. Move to Vegas

In the 2013 fall of pop monoliths who would be queen, it’s a bit disconcerting that the most veteran among them would be content to close out the year with a whimper instead of a bang. Britney Jean can’t match the radio ubiquity of Katy Perry’s Prism or the predictable tryhard of Gaga’s Artpop, and it’s been outclassed in both the shock-and-awe and innovative hooks departments by Miley Cyrus and Lorde, respectively. Its single, by-the-numbers EDM club banger “Work Bitch,” is about as generic as its title suggests, espousing a lunch pail philosophy to pop music that isn’t too far removed from Spears’ longstanding ethos of entertainment first, but it provides that entertainment perfunctorily, with gloves on and a clinical attention to detail. The song is fine, eminently listenable, and will get the nighttime masses bouncing, but it is, unlike so many of Spears’ past hits, utterly forgettable. It’s Spears the pop surgeon, not someone who wants to make you fuck.

As the last in Spears’ five-album commitment to RCA, Britney Jean is an effort that gives off a more overpowering stench of contractual obligation than any other record this year, with the possible exception of fellow labelmates the Strokes. There are, of course, the requisite pressers propping this up as her “most personal album to date,” and every song here features a Spears co-writing credit, but it doesn’t take long to view Britney Jean as a toss-off before the holiday shopping season. Will.i.am, who produced the majority of the tracks here, is an easy target – previously the producer of perhaps the worst Britney track committed to tape (Femme Fatale’s “Big Fat Bass” – will.i.am has a gift for song titles, as well), he sets off to make Britney Jean the most dated mainstream pop album of the year, and largely succeeds.

Femme Fatale introduced dubstep to the pop mainstream, however awkwardly, with “Hold It Against Me,” and previous albums Blackout (2007) and Circus (2008) were progressive dance-pop albums in their own right. Producers like Bloodshy & Avant and Danja found the perfect match to Spears’ physicality, pairing her with liquid beats and ingenious sound collages that drew out the lascivious force in Spears’ voice, always her most defining asset and the key to an otherwise lackluster vocal presence. Britney Jean almost completely abandons any pretense of breaking musical ground, instead wrapping itself in microwaved Dutch house that would have sounded old-fashioned two years ago and splicing in guest spots that feel like will.i.am simply called in whoever happened to be working in another part of the studio that day. Songs like “Til It’s Gone” and “It Should Be Easy” sound musty and trite, the buildups as recycled as the lyrics, while a track like “Tik Tik Boom” makes the cardinal sin of burying Spears’ considerable personality under a prefab dubstep breakdown and a T.I. cameo that, while certainly the most faceless, isn’t even the worst spot on the album. That would be Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn, who features in a duet on “Chillin’ With You” that is almost meta in its banal celebration of sisterly love amid a country-rap (!) breakdown. It’s absolutely bizarre, the only thing preventing it from becoming yet another throwaway track on an album full of them.

There are glimpses of the album Britney Jean could have been, however faint. “Alien” is another in a long list of excellent Spears mid-tempo pop numbers with an oddball bent, its folksy electronic textures a pleasant, if misleading, curveball opener. Diplo provides a needed assist with the beat to “Passenger,” but that song is undermined by Spears’ submissive lyrics: “I’ll let you lead the way now / cause I want you to take the wheel / I’ve never been a passenger though / I never knew how good it could feel.” Spears should be the dominating one here, the force of her personality and that voracious hunger that powers her best songs pushing and pulling; not being led, like a bad Prism B-side. At a mere thirty-six minutes, it’s not a stretch to see Britney Jean as a half-baked effort, more of a commitment to be completed and shipped off than the labor of love it was touted as. Spears goes off to Vegas now, on a two-year residency that seems more like Spears waving the white flag at the rest of the music industry than any real career plan. It’s a shame – at the top of her game, few could make pop music as vibrant and unrepentantly physical as Spears did. Perhaps what she needs is what she’ll hopefully be getting, a few years off from the grind to reconnect with the music on a more primal level and to catch up with a rapidly advancing curve. If not, Britney Jean should stand less as her swan song and more as an unfortunate postscript, Spears leaving as she arrived: familiar, controlled, and overwhelmingly unremarkable.



Recent reviews by this author
Tennis Ritual In RepeatDeath From Above 1979 The Physical World
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Source Tags & CodesRyan Adams Ryan Adams
Blonde Redhead BarraganThe New Pornographers Brill Bruisers
user ratings (77)
Chart.
2
poor
other reviews of this album
Scott M. Baldwin (1.5)
"There was a time when I was one of a kind."...


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


10420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

not the review sputnik deserves, but the one it needs

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

tommygun
December 4th 2013


24932 Comments


why don't britney make jams like toxic no more

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

tommygun
December 4th 2013


24932 Comments


double up double up

klap
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


10420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

tommy do you listen to miike snow? bloodshy & avant's (who produced toxic) band. good stuff. wish they would do some tracks w her

tommygun
December 4th 2013


24932 Comments


contractual obligation yo it's right there in the second paragraph

tommygun
December 4th 2013


24932 Comments


i do not but will czech cos toxic is one of the hardest bangers of all time

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


7282 Comments


Omg Rudy I love you reading this nowwww

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


7282 Comments


Double post sorry =S

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


7282 Comments


As the last in Spears’ five-album commitment to RCA, Britney Jean is an effort that gives off a more overpowering stench of contractual obligation than any other record this year, with the possible exception of fellow labelmates the Strokes.

Oi!

Aside from that, really good review. Unfortunate how a.) how predictably bad this was going to be, and b.) that she never could build on Femme Fatale.

BeneaththeDarkOcean
December 4th 2013


438 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Is it bad to say that I think "Big Fat Bass" is one of the more enjoyable tracks on Femme Fatale? I'd much rather take that over "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" (Sabi's verse, oh god).

Chrisjon89
December 4th 2013


3637 Comments


hell yes, Toxic is fantastic. gonna give this one a wide berth cos of William. he's excruciating on a Pitbull level.

review is good!

Parallels
December 4th 2013


6641 Comments


got to go to work, work all day
search for underpants hey

klap
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


10420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah drop dead beautiful was pretty bad too but i thought big fat bass was just criminal.

sorry irving it was too easy :0

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


7282 Comments


Listen to Yuna and all will be forgiven

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
December 4th 2013


21963 Comments


Miike Snow produced Toxic? Did not know that

BigPleb
December 4th 2013


36666 Comments


That summary is gold.

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


3449 Comments


Crap, this is a fantastic review. Won't check, though Till the World Ends is a jam

ShitsofRain
December 4th 2013


5897 Comments


ima

slaaaaaaaaaaaave

4 u

Digging: Anthony Shakir - Frictionalism 1994-2009

Irving
Staff Reviewer
December 4th 2013


7282 Comments


Get get it

Get get it

What

Get get it

Get get it

Uhhhh

conesmoke
December 4th 2013


5212 Comments


m/



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy