Britney Spears has said of her new album “Britney Jean,” “It is my most personal record yet. I poured my heart and soul into this album.” As deep confessionals go, this album barely scratches the surface. If anyone is expecting Britney to bare the dark inner recesses of her soul — not here. If, instead, you are looking for a fun pop dance record, then this collection delivers.
The first five cuts would be a great way to start an evening as you get ready to go out clubbing. “Britney Jean” opens with “Alien,” produced by William Orbit, who held the reins on Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album years ago. This cut sets the tone for a an album where Britney’s voice is used as an otherworldly ingredient in the track. Set among outer space beats and baselines, her vocals, somewhat robotic, work. The most successful songs here utilize Britney’s heavily processed and reverbed voice in this way.
“Work Bitch,” the next cut, is self-explanatory — nowadays it seems no record is complete without a “bitch” track or two. In this case, it keeps the club theme going.
“It Should Be Easy” is a throbbing disco collaboration between Britney and will.i.am. One of two cuts produced by David Guetta, it builds on the dance feel and makes you eager to hear a sprawling remix real soon. “It Should Be Easy” leads into the sexy bump and grind that is “Tik Tik Boom,” on which rapper T.I. guests.
One of the album’s weaker cuts is “Chillin’ With You,” Britney’s collaboration with sister Jamie Lynne. The song strips away the effects, leaving it to Britney’s thin vocals to carry the day. She has never been a great singer. And the “Chillin’ With You” theme seems stale, even forced by this point.
The album ends with “Don’t Cry” — a strange choice. In its composition, lyrics, and especially instrumentation, it seems like a close copy of the Justin Timberlake hit “Cry Me a River,” at the time believed to possibly be about his ex — Britney. Maybe “Don’t Cry” is Britney putting her personal stamp on the album.
“Britney Jean” is a fun dance club record. No reinvention of the wheel, to be sure. But there are great dance tracks helmed by some of today’s best producers.