And I don’t mean that in a good way.
Britney’s journey from Lolita to EDM Vixen couldn’t have been easy, so it made sense to rely on an experienced hands like William Orbit and Will.i.am to help shoulder the burden, especially after the success of Scream & Shout. This cd could well be pop-art; it’s literally all over the place and leaves you wondering what the heck’s it supposed to be. No “song” has more than two verses to it and the rest is all filler: Will.i.am’s endlessly looped hooks while throwing a Phil Spector-ish wall of Autotuned (noise) sound at you to try and distract you. The beats and rhythms are decent overall, but the constant repetition of the hooks in each song keep reminding you of what’s missing… and the cd’s already short enough as it is. Plus a lot of the effects and synths sound like they got lifted from a Sega Genesis or SNES game. The deluxe version’s bonus tracks are lame and the explicit version literally only has a couple of curse words in it; aside from Work B***h there’s a couple of lines about T&A in Tik Tik Boom. That’s it. Seriously.
Some highlights: *= deluxe edition bonus track
Alien: a decent song to start things off with, it’s not a stretch to say that lyrically it comes across like a metaphorical capsule for her personal life and career:
“There was a time I was one of a kind/Lost in the world out of me myself and I
Was lonely then, like an alien
I tried but I never figured it out/Why I always felt like a stranger in a crowd
Ooh that was then, like an alien
…Had to get used to the world I was on/While yet still unsure if I knew where I belong…”
Work B***h: we already know this one. A great club track that’s the lone standout on the whole album. And that’s a shame.
Perfume: a lament about wondering what your man is doing while visiting his ex; at first blush it almost doesn’t even sound like her singing, you’re so used to all the filtering and Auto-tuning… at least not until you get to the chorus.
It Should Be Easy: Surprise!- an overproduced collision of noise from Will.i.am. Skip it.
Tik Tik Boom (with T.I.): sounds like someone was playing Sonic the Hedgehog while doing the music for this one. Adding a playa like T.I. to the mix means it’s all about one thing. Not bad.
Body Ache: flipped the springing synth from Scream & Shout to form the base for it, but it never goes much beyond that. And it took NINE people to write this dud.
Til It’s Gone: ok, what the heck is with the chorus- did someone unlock a secret level on Megaman? No better example of a nothing track than this one right here. Childish.
Passenger: the writing from Katy Perry shows, as it’s one of the few that even attempts any kind of lyrical depth, being about giving up control and trusting in the one you’re with. Too bad all the 8-bit video game stuff tossed in means the music doesn’t match up.
Chillin’ With You (feat. Jamie Lynn): little sister joins the proceedings for an easy one about just being with a friend, someone you can relax with- even with Autotunes. Even has some actual guitar strumming for a few moments. I do like how the southern accent was left in (“chillin’ wit’ choo!”)
*Brightest Morning Star: co-written by Sia, this one’s dedicated to her children. Light, airy and easy.
*Now That I Found You: another slice of wtf-ery with the music. Swear this sounds like an EDM hoe-down or something.
*Perfume (The Dreaming Mix): unnecessary and uninteresting… and it’s actually a couple of seconds longer. Can’t even muster up anything else to say about it.
If all this sounds overly critical, it’s because this deserves it. A Britney Spears album is supposed to be fun, almost in a dumb blonde kind of way- like being in on the joke. This is just kind of dumb.
No, not kind of.