Okay, I’m just going to say it: the new Britney album is not very good. It’s loud, fun, fast and very easy to dance to, but when I finished listening to it I couldn’t help but feel empty and indifferent. You know when you listen to an album and when it ends you exhale loudly because you’ve been holding your breath the whole time it was playing? That doesn’t happen here. However, there are small
hold-your-breath moments throughout Femme Fatale
. “Till the World Ends” is one of those glorious moments, and it will most likely be a song-of-the-summer candidate. Other highlights are the chilled pop bliss of “How I Roll” and the momentary old-school-Britney vibe of “Gasoline,” where the femme herself growls and purrs things like “It’s hot in here” and “Damn boy, what you do to me,” but that’s about it.
I tried digging for hints of real Britney in the album and it’s tough. On a Ke$ha album you can hear all her booze, partying and grit. On a Rihanna record you can feel her sexy Barbadian roots. Even on a Robyn album you can hear and feel the girl’s pain and joy. Take a look at the production credits
for Femme Fatale
. It’s pretty indicative of where Spears is in terms of the album's creation and it’s not really anywhere.
I don’t want to dig too deep into this -- it’s a Britney Spears album, after all (did we question ...Baby One More Time
or In the Zone
this much?), but Femme Fatale
brings the Britney product to a new level of disconnect. There’s one line in the Wil.i.am-produced brain-melt “Big Fat Bass” where Britney blurts out “For the kick drum,” and for one millisecond it actually sounds like her natural, untouched voice. It sounds deep and sexy (if somewhat dead) and leaves the listener craving more realness.
I’m not saying we need deep ballads anymore or profound songs about her family, but it would be nice to hear a couple of tracks not completely and utterly soaked in Auto-Tune and crazy-ass reverb. Much like the Britney of Blackout
, this 44-minute party package is pretty, ice-cold pop but this time with a hyper Euro-trash techno twist.