Album review: Britney Spears - Glory

Album review: Britney Spears - Glory | Random J Pop

As time has gone on within the music industry, there has been less reliance on single sales. But with an artist like Britney, who despite delivering album sales has always been about the single, the decision to release "Make me" was an ill made one. The only purpose it truly served was to surprise everybody on how decent the album that followed actually was.

Glory is a nice amalgamation of Britney's sound over the years with a few trend led jams to make it fit amongst the soundscape of the time it was released. But the problem with this album is that it feels far too safe to the point of mediocrity. There are good songs on this album. Really good songs. But there is a certain level that one would expect from an artist who has been at the forefront of pop for well over a decade and Glory doesn't reach it. Had Glory been what we'd gotten instead of Femme fatale or Britney Jean, this might had been a different story.

To Glory's credit though, it does manage to course correct Britney after Dr. Luke and Max Martin completely stripped Britney of character for her 2011 release Femme fetale and will.i.am took Britney by the hand and drove her off a cliff Thlema and Louise style with its follow up Britney Jean.

For an artist who made her mark via dance-able pop records, Glory is decidedly more mid-tempo, which gives the album a coming of age feel. However late that may be for an artist who was 34 years old when this was released.

The album sells this new sensual mid-tempo Britney right off the bat within it's first 4 tracks. "Invitation" is a great and unexpected start to the album. Kicking albums off with mid tempos seems to be a new thing at the moment in place of explosive songs or lead singles. As nice as this track is, I would have preferred it if it were cut down to 2 minutes and deemed an intro. At 3 minutes, the song feels just a tad too long for what it is. "Make me"will live on in low key suburban strip clubs. I imagine it's a nice song to slide down a pole to. It won't get those 20's going up like Rihanna's "Needed me" though. "Private show" is Britney's attempt at something sexy and soulful. It's fun, it's bubbly and whilst you can hear the strain in Britney's vocals, I like that she's pushing it and that she sounds into the song. "Man on the man" is some throwback Britney-shit, sounding like something from Oops!...I did it again. Self referential? Probably a coincidence. But it's a nice song.

If the start of the album is where Britney sells the sensuality, the middle of the album is where Britney (but barely) sells the sex. It's also the portion of the album which feels the most derivative. "Just luv me" is one of the most forgettable tracks on the album. Nothing to it lyrically. Barely there musically. "Clumsy" on the other hand is a nice fusion of  nice throwback to Britney's Louisiana roots, featuring a Southern twang and Gospel style callbacks. But the lack of a vibrant build and a sorely needed middle-8 prevent it from ever getting off the ground. But it's a fun song which could have easily been made something special with a really good video. "Do you want to come over?" sounds like an In the zone leftover. "Slumber party" is Britney's take on a sexy Island bop and it works in ways you would never expect if you were to go on the description of the song alone. It's a shame that it was released so late as a single. "Love me down" shares the same Reggae overtones as "Slumber party", but also flirts with Trap for a heavy hitting chorus. A little contrived, but it works. This also would have made a strong single, and at the very least should have been serviced to radio and the clubs. The problem with these songs despite how well produced they are, is that they feel so cookie-cutter. Britney was the pop star that every female in pop wanted to emulate. Now she's out here delivering songs which sound like Rihanna and Selena Gomez leftovers.

Albums releasing in standard and deluxe forms is now a thing and fans are urged to pick up the Deluxe version, as the additional 5 tracks you get here are all solid songs; a couple of which should have been featured in the standard canonised track list. "If I'm dancing" its one of the best songs on this album. It's criminal that this song comes in so late into the track list. It's fun, it's catchy, it slaps, it should've been a single. But Britney would need to dance her pussy off in the music video or there'd really be no point.

If there's one song on the album which hearkens back to Britney's oft glorified and critically acclaimed Blackout, it's "Coupure electrique". A song which is surprisingly sung entirely in French. I would have loved for Britney to have released this is a single in French markets with a slick avant-garde video. Just because. It feels like a wasted opportunity that nothing was really done with this song, because a lot could have been done with it commercially and the fact Britney sings it completely in French is both new for her and pretty impressive.

Sound wise, Glory is standard Britney fare (Britney Jean now withstanding). The production is strong, but this is a given with Britney's albums as standard, so it's hardly a selling point.

Glory one of Britney most solid albums production wise since Blackout. Even more so than Femme fatale, which was extremely polished, but was far too much so to the point that the songs lacked edge and Britney didn't matter on the songs. But if Britney continues to release music, then she's going to need to try and push the envelope. She's also going to need to give everybody something more than this sex-kitten act, because it's getting old now. 10 out of the 17 tracks on Glory are about how much Britney wants dick. Not only is it old, but it's not always believable, coming from a star who seems so shy and reclusive. Britney needs to give something more. She has lived such a crazy life and seen so much, and yet there are no takes from here on any of it. I'm never expecting Britney to sing a song about her 2007 breakdown. But give us something a little more than 'I know you want this pussy, watch me work dis pussy'.

The general highlight of Glory is that Britney is finally singing like she cares again, which shows that maybe Britney still does actually care. Either that or she's better at faking it than she was before. Britney also pushes her vocals into new territories, which is nice to hear all these years on at a point when I didn't think Britney could give me anything new vocally. There are still a tonne of vocal effects on her voice and a bunch of other singers doing her backing vocals for her. But she at least sounds like she gives a damn on the mainline vocals.

Britney has long been known as the artist who defined pop and was the literal definition of it. But Glory doesn't blaze this same trail. There's nothing about this album which feels wholly exclusive to Britney, because literally any other female artist could sing the songs off of this album and probably do them better.

Glory will only be remembered as the album which was better than Britney Jean, and the album which was surprisingly good in the wake of the lukewarm "Make me". But this will not stand as a milestone album in the same way as some of her past efforts.

RATING: 5/10

Album highlights:
■ Invitation
■ Slumber party
■ Hard to forget ya
■ If I'm dancing ★ J's fave
■ Coupure électrique

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