After eight albums, it’s hard to imagine a world where there isn’t a new Britney record floating around. She’s the musical equivalent of Jennifer Aniston — objectively, no one knows why she’s still kicking around but, dammit, we want a success story. Britney Jean, though a solid effort, can’t be said to be that success story.
Produced by will.i.am, co-author of the illustrious hits “Scream and Shout” and “Work Bitch,” his signature heavy 8-bit bass features prominently throughout much of the album. It works well on a few tracks, following the footsteps of Spears’s last studio effort, Femme Fatale. “Alien,” Britney Jean’s leading track, produced by William Orbit, has a dreamy beep-boop threading itself through Spears’s crooning, similar to the album’s second single, and arguably best song, “Perfume.”
But the novelty starts to wear thin by the time we roll around to the fourth track, “It Should be Easy,” a song title with too many implications to even joke about (oh okay, let’s try: producing this album should’ve been easy). As the thumping continues into “Tik Tik Boom,” the whole experience starts to feel underwhelming, and a been-there-done-that feeling starts to take hold. It’s not to say that the album is bad, by any means; it’s a decent listen, but after Miley Cyrus’s wildly successful Bangerz, it hardly seems enough.
And speaking of enough, the album is short: at 10 tracks, it clocks in at just under 40 minutes. Brevity is never a bad thing and, in all likelihood, speaks to the involvement Spears had in making the album: she has songwriting credits for every track. It certainly is her most personal album, but it's also her lowest-selling album to date. The irony is that Blackout still reigns as her best album from the last few years, and came at a time when Spears was in no condition to be out in public, let alone creating an album.