Britney Spears’ ‘Glory’: Album Review

Let’s be honest: It wasn’t looking promising for Britney Spears as we started down Glory road. Longing for the flawless pop goddess of yesteryear, many in the fandom were still recovering from the double-poison dosage of flops Britney Jean and “Pretty Girls,” while others were so horrified by B9’s album cover that they petitioned the record label to change it.

So we were dubious when Glory (out today, ) crossed our desks. But Britney’s done her most shocking thing in years: She tried. For all its flaws (and there are many), this album features the entertainer more lucid, engaged and front-and-center than she’s been in years, as she laughs, talks, coos and sings.

More: Watch Britney do Carpool Karaoke with James Corden

The most prominent special effect on display here isn’t the bleep-bloop-boink sex-track music. Instead it’s all about Britney’s voice: cracks and groans, squeaks and giggles and all. The way she swings from lovely Casio-flute-keyboard soprano (“Make Me…”) to horny rabid chipmunk (“Private Show”) in the span of two songs says it all: Britney is having more fun than she’s had in years, and it’s infectious.

Gone is the dead-eyed singer from post-In The Zone days. She’s now been replaced by a living, breathing Britney (finally!) who tears into each track, whether it’s the alluring “Invitation,” the reggae-licious “Slumber Party” or the exquisite twin thrill of “Just Luv Me” and “Love Me Down,” which shares DNA with Selena Gomez’s recent minimalist masterpieces.

Although none of the more manic moments match the frenzied brilliance of “Toxic” (but what could, really?), Britney keeps control of the pulsating “Clumsy.” She fronts the gospel choir in “What You Need,” and shines on — my favorite — the hissing-Coke-can-chorused plea to FUCK, “Do You Wanna Come Over?”

It’s easy to imagine blasting Glory in a car full of friends, singing at the top of your lungs, and the deluxe version even features a handful of songs in which Britney stretches her vocals even further by warbling in a foreign language — including the lush “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)” and the all-French “Coupure Électrique.” (It apparently means “Blackout.” What a twist!)

Ultimately, the only thing that’s disappointing about the sex-obsessed Glory is, like the act that’s constantly on the brain of Britney’s musical persona, the afterglow can never quite live up to the sweat-soaked buildup. It’s wonderful to hear Spears sounding so fun-loving and free, but isn’t there something else on a 34-year-old icon’s mind than getting her Mickey Mouse clubbed?

A few deeper cuts that broadened Britney’s musical horizons would’ve been just the chaser this fizzy cocktail needed to bring casual fans and bystanders back into the fold, although maybe we’re lucky to have been spared “Chillin’ With You 2″ featuring Jamie Lynn, Lynn, and Jamie. That said, Glory is a pelvic thrust in the right direction for Britney, both personally and professionally. And it’s a very promising sign that she’s not just back…she’s better than ever, bitch.

Score: 4/5

Jonathan Riggs

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