After a quick listen-through at Sony HQ, here’s a first-glance at Britney Spears’ new album 'Femme Fatale', which is released March 28
Til The World Ends
The album opens with the two singles. First up is the current Ke$ha-penned track - ‘Til The World Ends’. With a chorus that shouts "DJ what you waitin’ for?", it’s a not exactly subtle ditty about dancing and having a nice time.
Hold It Against Me
Ah yes, the infamous ‘Britney Goes Dubstep’ moment. Except, she didn’t really. With a pulsing four to the floor ryhthm, and Britney’s trademark rogue pronunciation (‘hayzay’ anyone?) ‘Hold It Against Me’ sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Touted by fans as being about Britney and Justin Timberlake’s relationship, ‘Inside Out’ is a mid-tempo synth ballad. Britney icily prepares herself for a confrontation- "Gotta look my best if we’re gonna break-up"- but things take a turn at the front door - "Tryna say goodbye but it’s hot and heavy" - and post-break-up sex is the order of the day as the chorus comes around - "Come on, can’t you give me something to remember?/ Baby shut your mouth and turn me inside out/ Hit me one more time it’s so amazing/ How you shook my world and flipped it upside down’."
I Wanna Go
Another Ke$ha-influenced track - unsurprisingly, as it’s written by Max Martin and Shellback, frequent Ke$ha collaborators. ‘I Wanna Go’ sees Britney yearning to go ‘all the way tonight’. As a mother of two, I’m pretty sure she’s gone all the way already, so perhaps she’s in training for a marathon, and wants to up her mileage. Or perhaps it’s a veiled metaphor for dancing.
How I Roll
The first of two Bloodshy and Avant productions, ‘How I Roll’ is easily one of the best tracks on the album. Opening with heavy breathing (oo-er), and chiptune handclaps, it’s a little bit Joan Jett, and more than a little bit Robyn. Forget about ‘Me Against the Music’, this is Britney against the blogs. Singing about how she’s got ‘more lives than a kitty cat’, Britney’s in her element.
(Drop Dead) Beautiful
With vocodered Nicole Scherzinger vocals, and a SECOND hidden chorus (!) Britney croons an ode to a man who is "steamin like a pot full of vegetables", and whose "body looks so sick I thought I caught the flu".
Seal It With A Kiss
One of the weaker tracks, ‘Seal It With A Kiss’ is a little bit snoresome. Sounding like a possible ‘Circus’ offcut, even its similes are pointless ‘like telepathy I know what you’re thinking/ yeah you want me like that’.
Big Fat Bass
Will.I.Am’s much-publicised guest spot is exactly what one would expect - vocodered vocals, thumping bass, Will.I.Am booming aloud words which relate to the title. But hey, it’s a little bit Daft Punk, and has a touch of 8 bit - like a Cascada Crystal Castles.
Trouble for Me
Written by frequent Taio Cruz collaborator Fraser T Smith, ‘Trouble for Me’ opens with a Wiley grime wobble, and segues into an almost Janet Jackson vocal, via Luciana from Bodyrockers. Although it sounds slightly disjointed, when it works, it really works, especially when Brit speaks syncopatedly against the wobbly synths in the bridge.
Trip to Your Heart
The second Bloodshy and Avant song on the album, ‘Trip To Your Heart’ is an exercise in glorious Swedish electro robo-pop. The chorus showcases Britney’s talent for wistful melancholy. Sweet and detached, she sings "spread your wings out into the dark, I’ll fly away on a trip to your heart/ Break these chains that keep us apart/ I’ll fly away on a trip to your heart".
‘Gasoline’ brings us back to ‘Toxic’ territory - Britney’s on the lookout for a new man, and she won’t accept anything but the best. One of the most infectious tracks since ‘Womanizer’, like ‘(Drop Dead) Beautiful’ ‘Gasoline’ also has a hidden second chorus, with a latent ear-worm of ‘setting me on fire’.
With a flute hook, ‘Criminal’ has a vaguely Eastern sound, as Britney sings of her love for ‘a sucker with a gun’ over a 90s drum beat. Gently catchy, it’s a laid-back confimation that Britney knows exactly what she’s doing.
Bar a few slight hiccups (when has Will.I.Am ever been a welcome addition to anything?) it's clear that Britney's back, and she means business. 'Femme Fatale' lives up to its title- it's a killer record.