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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Track-by-Track: Britney Spears - Femme Fatale

It's pretty useless to review a Britney Spears album for its artistic merits. Like so many pop singers before and after her, Spears is better looked upon as a muse for some of the best commercial songwriters and producers of her time. Lucky for me, many of those behind-the-scenes folks are working in Sweden. And from that standpoint, the album's best tracks all sound like standouts from four different Swedish bands/artists (namely Alcazar, Robyn, the Tough Alliance and Tove Styrke). This alone makes the album a pleasant surprise.

1. Till The World Ends - I really blasted this song a couple weeks ago, but I've gotta admit that somehow it's grown on me. Some tracks just take longer. Still nowhere near the best songs on here, but it's a nice opener. The chants remain the standout. 8/10

2. Hold It Against Me - It's the exact opposite with this one. The more I hear it, the more I tire of it, which ends up bringing it about level with the first track, rating-wise. It doesn't have quite enough melody to give it staying power. 8/10

3. Inside Out - This one just isn't hitting me. I appreciate the sound that they're going for, but the melody's completely underwhelming and the production plodding. 6/10

4. I Wanna Go - Now THIS is more like it. This is hands down, no question, the album highlight and could be a monster single for her. Like Madonna's Hung Up a few years ago, it harnesses a flawless, swirling dance beat. (for those keeping track, it's also the "Alcazar" song of the four standouts) 10/10

5. How I Roll - Stupid title, but another standout. It's got the kind of quirky electro attitude that you'd expect from an artist like Robyn. And although Robyn does this kind of stuff so much better, this is quite enjoyable in its own right. 9/10

6. (Drop Dead) Beautiful (ft. Sabi) - This is very much a filler track. Everything, from the heavily processed vocals to the dull production/melody is pretty shallow and forgettable. Not horrible by any means, but it doesn't leave any impression. 6/10

7. Seal It With A Kiss - And we're back to interesting territory. There are parts of the chorus (the background vocals) that sound like the Tough Alliance (a Swedish indie-electro band). It gives this song a really cool vibe. Couple that with a great melody and hook and you've got something very special. 10/10

8. Big Fat Bass (ft. Will.i.am) - Ugh. Every time Will.i.am features on/produces a track for another artist it's guaranteed to be one of the weaker/trendier/more derivative songs on the album. This is actually more interesting than I expected, but too repetitive and obnoxious to warrant too many repeat listens. 6/10

9. Trouble For Me - I can't begin to describe how much I'm sick of the David Guetta-esque beats that open this track. It's so overdone and ruins what could be a decent song. It's not a very pleasant listen. 6/10

10. Trip To Your Heart - This shows off the potential of what this album could have been. It's lush, mature and endlessly melodic. It reminds of of the experimental tracks that Spears recorded with BT for her third album (though they never actually made it onto the cd). By far the prettiest song on the album. I wish she'd record more like this instead of chasing trends. This is something I'd imagine Tove Styrke singing. 9/10

11. Gasoline - This is probably the poppiest song on here and the most like her previous work. Luckily, it's a great example of that classic Spears sound that so many people grew up with. This would have fit perfectly on her second or third album. 8/10

12. Criminal - An odd flute-assisted track with a slower tempo, bubblegum melody and rebellious lyrics. It's one of the standouts, though it doesn't necessarily fit with the tracks that come before it. 9/10

Album Grade: 7.9/10

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4 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

you're much kinder to the album than i would be where it would probably average a 5-6 out of ten, bought up only by the 10 rating tracks you've highlighted. Still i've always worked best with britney as a singles artist rather than an album person...

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Will said...

Good review. I must say I agree with a lot of what you had to say, but I do think you may have overrated a few of the lesser tracks. Some of those scores should be less than a 6 at least if you said you weren't too happy with them, but I'm really not the one to say what song deserves what point value in your mind. Trip To Your Heart is probably my favorite track on the album and I totally agree with you on the proposal that she should have chased more of this melodic, dream trance style over some of the less decent edgier tracks on the album. Overall, I'm both satisfied and impressed with the album and again, good job with the track-by-track analysis.

12:19 AM  
OpenID ryanfebruary said...

I always find BritBrit's albums have several AMAZING tracks mixed with some really unimpressive ones. I think they really try to reach multiple audiences. I also think that 3/4 of the bonus tracks on the Deluxe Ed are worth hearing and worth the extra $$s.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Patrick said...

The writer is totally right, and there is no skepticism.
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6:17 AM  

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