Album Review: “Glory” by Britney Spears

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.

Rating: A
Release Date: August 26, 2016

Image Courtesy of Getty

2 thoughts on “Album Review: “Glory” by Britney Spears

  1. This is such a great goddamn album! This is my review I posted to FB. “here is my official, overly in-depth, highly intellectual review of the Britney’s new album none of you asked for but all of you need. After a week of crucial analysis only Scott Allyn Borden can provide, I agree with 90% of the critics- it’s rather great. Make sure to check out the deluxe edition because some of those bonus tracks are not only some of the best ones on this album but some of the best stuff of her career. Really experimental and fresh stuff, especially from an artist who gets zero credit for creating the industry so many imitators these days now get all the undeserved credit for. I am an admitted stalker but that does not mean I okay everything and am a blind follower (just like with my politics- no one gets a free pass from me and I’m actually a pretty tough critic). Where does someone with the most consistently strong catalogue (yes, it’s true) go from there? What sound do you go for when you’ve literally done everything? You could go political or go for some message like some people do, but no one takes her seriously to begin with so people would cry the ‘desperate for relevance’ card (yet when other people clearly do it for clearly that reason they get hailed as the second coming of Christ). This album has no revelations about the meltdown ten years ago. It’s pretty empty in that regard, and why does it need to? It’s ten years ago. Some reviews slam it for that. “This is the best work of her career but I still wanna know about why she shaved her head and she doesn’t have a song about it so I hate this album.” Okay. If you say so. It’s simple: it’s a great pop album. First off I’ll say this: hooks, hooks hooks, choruses, choruses, choruses, melodies, melodies, melodies, and personality. The main thing here is that you can tell the depression is gone. You can tell it by how she looks these days. Not just the fact she’s hotter than she ever has been but you can’t fake confidence. Even ugly people with confidence erase being ugly with their confidence. She is doing what only she can do, whatever that is. This album is a cross between In The Zone and Blackout, her two best albums: Blackout for being so perfectly produced and experimental, and In The Zone for being an album from A to Z. This is an actual ALBUM that you almost can’t listen to unless you listen to it in full, in order, without interruption, as opposed to having a few tracks you skip to. The order of the tracks is perfect and they all lead to one another. It makes sense. It’s cohesive. The weird tracks (and there a e a few- it’s Britney and even she knows she’s not much of a singer so she can do weird stuff no one can or does do with her voice to give us interesting stuff). There are no mega producers here. The world knows her stupid kids are her priority in life now (FUCK YOU, K-FED), so while her last few albums (and by the way, the media keeps saying this is her “comeback” when she’s had hit album after hit album, huge record breaking single, two world tours, and the biggest show in Vegas history since she shaved her head ten years ago- yes, ten years later and it’s still anything people want to talk about because society is a buncha dicks, especially to women) were solid, it was ALL about the huge producer names attached and you could tell she came in after they were down and did one or two takes of the vocals, then she went off to make them a billion dollars. No, this album reeks of her. The producers here are currently blowing up people and up and comers who don’t overshadow with themselves- this is all about her and It all works. The first track, ‘Invitation’ already throws you off guard because it’s unlike anything we’ve heard from her. You almost want to skip it because it’s not 1999 “Britney” (I didn’t start stalking her until the VMAs ‘Slave’ performance when her sound matured so why you would like the older stuff is beyond me). I f you just listen and stay for the ride it’s a helluva good one. It leads right into ‘Make Me’ which makes more sense in the album’s flow than as a single. And as a lead single i’s interesting- they could have easily gone the traditional route and chosen to lead with the best track, but that’s boring. This is different, it’s new, it’s a step forward. She has nothing to lose and you can hear it. ‘Do You Wanna Come Over’ is one of the best tracks of her entire career. ‘Clumsy’ is an insane drunk song. ‘Liar’ is raucous, with the strings and the tight harmonies of the title lyric. ‘Private Show’ is utterly bizarre yet brilliant. Motown chipmunk is all I can say. ‘Just Luv Me’ is crazy good. Crazy crazy good. ‘Slumber Party’ sounds like it would be a kid’s birthday song but it’s a reggae fuck fest. It’s really great. ‘Love Me Down’ is a great Gwen Stefani impression. ‘What You Need’ is a tribute to James Brown with its all those horns (yes, there are a lot of live instrumentals on this album), and it’s so much fun it literally ends with her saying, “That was fun.” ‘Better’ is so great and hard to describe. ‘Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes)’ is one of the sexiest fuckin’ songs you’ll ever hear, complete with a killer chorus in Spanish. And speaking of foreign languages there is another track sung completely in French. ‘Hard To Forget Ya’ is a really fun summer track. The acoustic guitar and raw vocals on ‘Just Like Me’ are refreshing as hell. This is a great great album. If you’re only open to artists who have been around for three to five years because you’re a bandwagoner or you’re one of those people who want people to be exactly who they were when you first met, (a) grow up, and (b) maybe don’t check the album out. Let me know how Kesha is doing though (er, sorry- Ke$ha). But if you like really good top 40 and great production and have a connected brain stem, check this record out. And actually listen to it as an album. Because it IS an album. This isn’t three hits sandwiched between filler tracks. Don’t go on social media and look for the trending tracks either. Go old school and pretend this is a cassette tape album you have to listen to from beginning to end. It’s a solid, cohesive set to be heard in its entirety. Good job, boo boo. See ya at home. We’re having leftover short ribs for dinner.”

  2. i have to say, that review is spot on accurate. What does a Britney album sound like?!… what does a Madonna, or Gaga album sound like?
    “Blackout” will always be her best, “In the Zone”, “Femme Fatale” and “Glory” right behind that…
    I found “Glory” to be both good and yet surprisingly (subtlely?) hysterically hilarious… I laughed my ass off, the first 5-10 spins- because it seemed to me she was jabbing and mocking everyone to come after her, especially Ariana(“Hard to Forget Ya”) Beyoncé(“What you Want”) with beautiful yet subtle jabs at Gaga, Bieber, and Gomez abound… is that just me? hahaha… Love.

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