Britney Spears returned to music scene on Tuesday with what she calls her most personal album to date, “Britney Jean.” The title already treads that intimate territory, taking on her first and rarely-used middle name. Spears does open up about heartbreak on half of the 10-track LP while continuing to dab in EDM on the other half. The meaningful mid-tempo numbers really make up the best moments on “Britney Jean,” but for a singer who has become synonymous with hot dance tracks, she makes sure to deliver on both fronts.
“Britney Jean” is Spears' first album to feature co-writing credits from her on every song. She seems to tackle heartbreak from last year the most. On the record's best track “Perfume,” Britney opens up both lyrically and vocally about marking an unfaithful lover with her fragrance. “I put on my perfume / Yeah, I want it all over you / Gotta mark my territory,” she belts on the elegant synth-pop tune. Spears was quite the bold balladeer on her first two albums and she finds her voice again with this beautifully vulnerable moment.
Spears seems to traverse space and the unknown on “Alien,” another gorgeous song on “Britney Jean.” Producer William Orbit supplies galloping beats and enchanting electronic production as she details the loneliness felt before finding love. “But the stars in the sky look like home / Take me home / And the light in your eyes lets me know I'm not alone,” she sings in a hypnotic manner. The slight breaks in her voice on the lofty pop song “Don't Cry” make it a standout as well. She highlights the struggle of finding the strength to move on from a breakup with lines like “Hide my tears and dry my eyes / You don't need to see me cry.”
The most personal track on “Britney Jean” is probably “Chillin' With You” featuring her younger sister Jamie Lynn Spears. It's also the most playful as the sisters trade verses about enjoying each other's company. An acoustic guitar kicks off the collaboration before it goes club when big beats back Britney and Jamie Lynn singing, “When I'm with you, I'm chillin'.” The song is full of heart but it still bumps like a Britney jam.
With getting personal, Spears also gets down on “Britney Jean.” The EDM section is where the album slips a bit because the production isn't particularly groundbreaking. Britney still makes the best of it, though, especially on the thrilling dance track “Til It's Gone.” “You'll never know what you got til it's gone,” she sings over a blast of synthesizers. Spears is at her fiercest on “Work B**ch,” an aggresive slice of EDM. “I am the bad b*tch!” she defiantly declares. “Tik Tik Boom” is also explosive in all the right ways. Britney lets her freak flag fly with T.I. on the naughty bedroom banger. And despite featuring will.i.am and robotic vocals, Spears is still the life of the party on the disco-tinged song “It Should Be Easy.”
“Britney Jean” may not have been Spears' most personal record but it does highlight her two separate lives: Britney, the person, and Britney, the dance floor diva. She digs deep on the mid-tempo material and rises to the occasion on the EDM tracks. The album is an embodiment of the Britney Spears we've grown to know and love throughout the years.
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