Monday, 8 December 2008

Album Review: Britney Spears - Circus

The excessive airbrushing on the cover of Britney's latest offering, Circus, is sadly indicative of the album's content, which utilises all kinds of digital trickery to gloss over any of the Louisiana pop princesses interesting quirks. All but one or two of the sixteen tracks on the album see Britter's voice vocoded to fuck, which worked on Blackout, as we knew she was probably too wasted to complete a vocal, but now she's meant to be clean, we expected a little more. Lyrically, there are moments of real openness, but more often than not, they're completely cancelled out by a corny cliché or an unnecessary effect.

Though the quality of the album is patchy at best, there are some stone-cold pop classics on Circus, including opening track Womanizer, which has now hypnotised Helen Of Troy..., crushing any early reservations we might have
had. Equally fabulous is second track and second single Circus, which we think is as good, if not better, than anything in the Britney back catalogue. When she sings 'I'm like a ring-leader I call the shots', you very nearly believe her. Unfortunately, after the excellence of Circus, we're confronted by one of the blandest ballads we've ever heard, Out From Under, which, given a few lyrical tweaks, wouldn't have sounded out of place on Britney's début album from 10 years ago. Out From Under is followed by two so-so electro tracks, Kill The Lights and Shattered Glass, which though far from bad, are still nothing to get too excited about.

After the bit of bland comes If You Seek Amy, which, if listened to correctly, has the refrain 'All of the boys and all of the girls are dying to F-U-C-K-Me'. Helen Of Troy... loves a good pun, so this song is right up our street. We also love the maniacal laughter and unusual allusions to la Wino. Strangely brilliant.
Ms Spears slows the pace for the next song, the gorgeous Unusual You, which proves that Britney doesn't have to choose between high-energy pop classic or bland saccharine ballad. It's a real highlight, and sounds like the kind of material a 27-year-old Britney should be making.

From there on in, the album's either uncomfortably weird or just plain dull. Much has been made of the strangeness of Mmm Papi, which features some of the worst pop lyrics of the of the past 10 years 'Now see, I'm mommy and that makes you papi, and that makes us lovey'. WTF? Another unbelievably awful track is Phonography, which made Helen Of Troy... want to throw the CD out of the window. It really is that bad. The rest of the tracks on the album fall into one of two camps; faceless electro-pop or sickening ballads. Neither of which float Helen Of Troy...'s boat.

Circus pretty much sums up Britter's entire career: when she's good, she's very fucking good, but when she's bad, she's horrid.



Anonymous said...


Gregling said...

Harsh but I think more than fair. Thing about Britters is she's been in this game long enough that she should be bringing her own style to things by now, but it sounds like this album could've been made by any of a dozen X-factory-fresh pop starlet wannabes and at this juncture that just aint good enough. Dis-MISSED!