Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Album Review: Britney Spears 'Femme Fatale (Deluxe Edition)'

Oh Britney. What have you done?

For those of you that don't know me, from 1999 to 2005, I was a massive Britney stan. Huge. Until her knee screwed everything up. From that point on, when she decided her career was nothing and that celebrity status was more important, I decided to flip her the bird and move on. Sure, I bought 'Blackout' and 'Circus' but months after their releases and with minimal excitement. 'Blackout' was great leap forward for her, but 'Circus' was full of filler and seems like such a whimper compared to its predecessor (even 'In The Zone' was more of a leap forward than 'Circus').

So, my thoughts then on Femme Fatale, her seventh studio album.

It is much, much better than 'Circus'. My biggest problem with Britney was that she still had the lyrics and music of a teeny bopper. Not so much on here even though she is still working with Max Martin (who, if you didn't know by now, wrote 'Baby One More Time'). There's a nice duality in the opening tracks 'Til the World Ends' and 'Hold it Against Me'- both of them have the 'faux-dubstep' sound but are very much what Britney should sound like in 2011.
The fan favourite 'Inside Out' is next and while it's a good track, I don't get the hype over it. That's not to say I don't like it though. But it's no where near her top 10 best tracks. That honour should go to the next track, 'I Wanna Go'. The hook, the whistle effects, the beat- it sounds so fresh and different from anything else she's done. I keep going back to this track the most.
'How I Roll' is a cute sounding song with amateurish lyrics, but that's okay. Is it weird that my favourite bit about the song is just opening effects? SMS or e-mail me the answer plz.

The next three tracks that follow have this dance/techno (I use that term incredibly lightly) concept. I really would love to hear a mashup of 'Trouble For Me' with 'Take Me to The Love Parade' *coughmakeithappenpleasecough* There's a real 90s dance vibe on these tracks, in my opinion. 'Trip To Your Heart' another fan favourite off the cut, is good, but it doesn't live up to the hype. It does sound like the older, wiser sister of 'Heaven on Earth' though.'Gasoline' is a catchy albeit filler-ish track using the extended metaphor of petrol for adrenaline/lust. #shrugs
The standard album ends with 'Criminal'. Yes it's a good song, downtempo and harks back to Madonna circa American Life BUT ever since I read the observation that the chorus sounds like 'The Logical Song', it's been tainted. Just a bit.

Now, the real goodies are on the deluxe edition. 'Up N Down' has a great bridge and catchy chorus, as does 'Selfish'. The real highlight on the album is 'He About To Lose Me'. All I can say is: That. Beat. Totally hypnotic. Wonderfully understated. Just a shame that it doesn't sound like Britney sings the chorus at all.

It's a good album. Not the 'Ray of Light' esqueness that we had been told to expect. But then again, I don't think Britney could carry that sound or thematic concerns off very well. Indeed, the album is based on sex and dancing. Or dancing as a metaphor for sex. So it's a safe album in terms of lyrics, but thank god the sound has progressed. Her fanbase isn't 12 years old anymore and neither is she. The big question from here is whether she wants to continue to be a popstar or not, because it looks and sounds like it's just not her thing anymore.

Verdict: 7 Mickey's out of 10 Mouse Clubs
Standout Tracks: I Wanna Go, He About To Lose Me, Till The World Ends

NB: Big Fat Bass and (Drop Dead) Beautiful are both shit. Except for the piano bit on the former.

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