Britney Spears – [Album]

Friday, 28 November 2008

After the fantastic electro clash-infused, club-cavorting flop that 2007’s Blackout turned out to be, which happened to coincide with her spectacular swan dive from grace in front of a succession of camera lenses, even Britney Spears’ most devout fans were checking their watches to see if her high time was over. Were that the case, all that would’ve remained was to release one last album that could function as the soundtrack to the singer/starlet’s final train wreck ending and call it a day; but as Circus starts up, it becomes apparent that Britney Spears, like Madonna when she released I’m Breathless in 1990, simply had to burn to shine again.

Ironically, only a celebrity could have made Circus; after viewing the DVD included in the set that basically functions as a reassuring advertisement extolling the singer’s “perfectly sane” status, from the opening stutter of “Womanizer,” Britney Spears begins cutting the strings by which her Pop-peteers have animated her for the last nine years, gets confrontational and (as she says herself in the title track) starts calling her own shots; damning the torpedoes and standing tall to proudly live or die on her own because she doesn’t have anything else to lose.

While Spears does concede to running through the motions for a couple of moments here (“Out From Under” is fluff, there’s no denying it), she spends most of Circus taking all of those legions that have made a profit from her private life over the last couple of unfortunate years to task including the paparazzi (scathingly indicted in “Kill The Lights”), celebrity gossip mongers (the title track) and unfaithful lovers (“Shattered Glass”) among a host of other targets for whom she pulls no punches. Each one gets set up and shot down with an ease and a dead-eye aim that no one would have ever realistically expected from Britney Spears. After all, this is the pop tart who has always played the role of the blushing damsel in distress that no one ever saves and this sort of incisive workmanship, combined in this case with some pretty stellar pop beats, makes for a pretty intoxicating cocktail; even listeners that have scoffed at the singer’s reedy voice and contrived fare previously will be both drawn into and surprised by Circus because, while her voice is still not her strongest asset, she shows consistent bite on this album’s fifteen tracks.

While this record is full of surprises for those previously (and justifiably) jaded to Spears’ high-jinx over the years, easily the single greatest one is the shockingly smart condemnation of the fickle American pop star system, “If U Seek Amy.” No one – not even die hard fans – has ever accused Britney Spears of being a particularly clever wordsmith or cunning linguist, but the song‘s double entendres (the intonation of the title refrain gets manipulated a little by the singer so the punch line works out to “F-U-C-K Me”) and the coy, teasing intonation of her vocal marks a savvy that might serve as an epiphany for a general public that was fairly certain Britney Spears was about as bright as a blow-up doll and serves notice to listeners – but fan and detractor – that she won’t be playing a victim for them anymore. Could it be? Is this where Britney Spears – who has been called mad as a hatter before – gets angry and starts fighting back? We‘ll see….


Britney Spears' official website

Britney Spears' Jive Records website

Britney Spears' official myspace

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