Britney peers at us, with sharp eyes and parted lips, through her icy blonde locks from the album cover of her ninth studio album “Glory.” The photo itself is nearly identical to the one used for the album art on “Femme Fatale,” her crown jewel concept album. Her expression here is one of calm determination and hope; she’s no longer trying to come off as coquettish or sexually rebellious, here she is a seasoned star ready to entertain the whole world in her lace and sequins. “Glory” proves itself to be on par with “Femme Fatale” in every way conceivable.
“Glory” will be a great source of joy for warriors in the Britney Army, especially after “Britney Jean,” which was unremarkable save for the sad but knockout consumer capitalist anthem “Work Bitch.” The aptly named “Glory” boasts several undeniably great songs, and even the weakest songs are still rendered totally listenable by their sugary glamour and clean production. This album reminds us of what we always knew to be the truth — nobody can create pop music qua pop music better than Britney Spears. “Glory” reveals that she never actually left radio pop, pop music just left Britney. But here she has the chance to catch up with today’s younger, newer pop stars who pretend to be less mainstream, adapting herself to the sound they’ve made so popular and doing it way better.
Part of her charm is the honesty of the whole project. All of the marketing has always been plain to see: the songs are produced for the masses and covered with sparkly sprinkles for maximum consumption. Britney’s image is carefully crafted and updated every few years, taking full advantage of her Barbie doll good looks every step of the way. Unlike pop star peer Beyoncé, nobody thinks of Britney as an auteur. She does away with all pretenses and just performs, delivers and dances.
Just like all of her music, “Glory” is thoughtful and bangin’, but it stands in stark contrast to her previous bodies of work. In fact it doesn’t really sound like a Britney Spears album at all, but since many of her albums fly along with whichever way the wind of the musical trends of the time blow, it is hard to say what a true Britney Spears album sounds like. “Glory” could have been titled “Me vs. 2016.” She sings along with herself in French and Spanish, which results in a more exotic sound, something she’s tried once before in 2003’s “In the Zone.” The songs are themed like the dance club and car radio hits of today, with long and loud instrumental breaks and heavy synth. She pulls heavily from the pop stars who’ve eclipsed her in the Instagram era. “Love Me Down” sounds like a Rihanna song, and “Slumber Party” is similarly Caribbean-themed. “Invitation” is strikingly similar to and better than Selena Gomez’s “Good for You” and there are trace amounts of Drake and Pitbull respectively on two of the strongest songs of the whole album, “Better” and “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes).” Since she has played such a huge role in the advent of dance music culture, it is only natural that she would have influenced and inspired the current batch of artists, and only natural that she would eventually become influenced and inspired by them in turn.
The slower songs on “Glory” all shine; “Invitation,” “Man On the Moon” and “Coupure Electrique” are lovely little pop gems by any standard. But of course, fast dance songs will always be Britney’s raison. “If I’m Dancing” is a fast club song that stands out for its icy sound and somewhat campy intro and lyrics. Perhaps the most signature Britney song is “Do You Wanna Come Over.” It’s a hilarious song, which features sound effects of soda cans opening and a lasciviously confident “uh-huh” as the opening line, but this kind of kitsch has always been apart of the appeal. Britney sings to us, “Whatever you want, whatever you need, I’ll do it (uh-huh). I’ll do it (uh-huh). Do you wanna come over?” in a deep but airy voice. Here, she encapsulates the ethos behind her whole approach to music. She exploits the times and the world just like it exploited her all this time, and the byproduct is some timeless, ebullient and beautiful music. And you should definitely come over.
Release Date: August 26, 2016
Image Courtesy of Getty