Britney Spears’ ‘Britney Jean’: Review Revue

Sam Lansky | December 3, 2013 9:03 am

Well, Britney Spears’ latest opus Britney Jean hits retailers today, and the critics — much like the fans — are split about the album. Is it great? Is it terrible? Is it both? (Probably.)

In my review, I showed the pop princess some tough love, writing: “It’s the first time in fifteen years that Spears has ever released something truly lackluster. Accordingly, listening to it is kind of a bummer.” By and large, the critics tended to agree that Spears missed the mark on this release, with most commenting upon the initial promise that this would be her most “personal” yet and whether those expectations were met.

Head below to read what the reviewers had to say. 

:: The New York Times agreed that “the music has lost its snap,” writing: “The fun leaches out while the calculation stays obvious on Britney Jean. The lyrics touch Ms. Spears’s usual bases — love, lust, dancing, success, breaking up — with no personalizing details.”

:: emusic described the album as “bangers and mush” as well as “briskly businesslike,” but offered an even-handed take, saying: “For all the talk about Spears’s devotion to her job, it’s nice to get a sense that she’s actually enjoying herself, and managing to free herself from at least some of her career’s more stress-inducing aspects, while she’s on the clock.”

:: Our friends at SPIN complained that in departing from Spears’ dance-pop formula for something more personal, she “wipes out”: “Spears never seems in control. She wears clothes well, hooks up with the right choreographers, and boasts a singles discography to rival Pink’s and Gaga’s. But through it all, she remains a passenger.”

:: Rolling Stone concedes that there’s an absence of “disco kicks” and “nothing here explodes,” but maintains that it’s a solid release with a lot of sentiment: “It’s a concept album about the loneliness of pop life – with a high-profile broken engagement behind her, Brit gets personal and drops her most bummed-out music ever.”

:: The New York Post eviscerated the album, complaining: “She was never much of a singer, but hearing Britney morphing herself into a horribly auto-tuned dance diva for her eighth album creates a bigger problem than the one she’s trying to solve.”

:: The Washington Post was also displeased with the sound of the record, attacking its lack of timeliness and originality: “Spears has never been a musical pathfinder; like Madonna, she’s better at breaking down avant-garde sounds and reassembling them for mainstream consumption. But Britney Jean is hopelessly dated; its exercises in EDM, dubstep-pop, disco, trance and arena ballads would have sounded familiar in 2011.

:: The Los Angeles Times complained that the album relied too heavily on cliches: “Britney Jean, the new studio album from Britney Spears, is marked with so many sleights of hand, dubious lyrics and bombastic but boringly simple melodies that the too-rare levitation of its better moments seems an animation trick.”

:: And our own MuuMuse, in his In-Depthney and Personalney review of the record, said a lot of good and important things, but spelled it out most frankly here: “For the first time in her career, Britney has released an album that is just okay — by her standard, anyway.” Sigh.

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