Britney Jean is supposed to Britney Spears’s most personal album to date, giving me a look into the “loneliness” of her “pop life”. She is the executive co-producer of the whole thing, alongside will.i.am, so she knows what she is talking about, right? Wait, this is Britney Spears we are talking about here. Sigh.
Dear Ms Spears is in her thirties now, and it had been a long way from … Baby, One More Time. She has made her mark on popular culture, and now, it makes sense that she may want to take a step back and share with us all those deep feelings she has pent up throughout the more difficult times in her life. Unfortunately, this is not that album, and these are not those songs.
Thanks to will.i.am, most of the tracks are cold and anonymous electronic dance beats that are as generic as can be. Alien is an obvious track about her feeling of isolation from the rest of the world, and Passenger is about how she is finally willing to step back and let someone lead after being in control of her life all this while. The latter is heartbreaking when I contrast the lyrics to the events she had gone through in the last years – the lyrics seem darkly ironic. But the music by itself is devoid of personality. Anyone could have sung these songs.
The best song is easily Perfume, a big melancholic ballad about jealousy and paranoia. The words are haunting and lovely here, and the imagery is evocative – a wildly insecure woman dousing herself in the perfume so that, in the event that her boyfriend is really seeing his ex like she suspects, the ex would smell the woman on the man. Ms Spears’s vocals are surprisingly strong here, which only make the song more hard hitting on the heart.
Aside from Perfume, though, everything else sounds like a standard anonymous EDM stuff that one would vaguely remember once the hangover clears in the morning. I’m sure Britney Spears has a lot of things to say if she is willing to and can find the right ways to express them, but Britney Jean isn’t that personal moment that it is hyped up to be.