britney spears femme fatale
  • MONDAY, MARCH 28, 2011

  • Posted by: Siobhan Fludder

Femme Fatale, an album of hypnotic dance tracks from this generation's original sex kitten, has a cozy landing among the auto-tuned, attitude-struck, unashamed pop vixens of today. Essentially, the quality of the album has everything to do with the perspective with which you approach Britney Spears. If you can't get past the vacancy of Spears' presence or lack of introspection, Femme Fatale is not going to change your mind about the pop star. But, frankly, Britney is doing a fine job of what she does best. She purrs flirtatiously and proclaims bold desires with the precision of someone who has spent the past ten years perfecting her ability to tease with every syllable. What the album lacks in originality, it makes for in rhythmic seduction. Femme Fatale slides into mainstream circulation with as much provocative delivery as her most recent full length release, Circus, but the reception's strength threatens to quiver because this time around, we aren't hoping for her to succeed; we're expecting her to.

More than ten years after our introduction to Spears, she is competing against an industry of digital enhancements catering to the shameless antics the likes of Ke$ha and Lady Gaga rather than the sugary sweetness of artists like Mandy Moore. Britney takes this challenge on with confidence in tracks like "I Wanna Go", "Hold It Against Me", and "Trouble For Me". In fact, the first two words of the latter song are actually "Blackjack / Whiskey straight", so Lady Pokerface and Miss Water Bottle Full of Whiskey in Her Handbag better take note. Perhaps this is less of a competition and more of a move the pop world as a whole is making, as one of the most powerful songs on the album, "Till the World Ends", was in fact written by none-other than Ke$ha herself.

While Spears' individual personality remains an enigmatic presence in this album, the thumping beats accompany the alluring demeanor of her voice with such seemless fusion that the energy is nearly tangible. You may be hard pressed to find a Britney fan who is left disappointed, with endearingly nostalgic moments during "Inside Out" found in lyrics "Hit me one more time / It's so amazing how you shook my world and flipped it upside down / You're the only one who ever drove me crazy" in reference to her first ever single "Baby One More Time" and the second "Crazy". Although fan response will be positive, the basic elements of each song on the album do not fulfill much else besides club-friendly beats centered around Spears' trademarked portrayal of a fantastically seductive vixen that is as brazen as it is coy. She does a flawless job of promoting the unapologetic sexual confidence that is sought after by today's female audience, while also maintaining the demure, eyelash batting flirtation that Britney (and her handlers) believe will attract male listeners.

Femme Fatale is yet another chapter in this mantra, but it may not be enough to impress many outside her fan base, especially in an increasingly competetive industry. Despite the lack of boundaries this album pushes within the pop world, Spears does take on a bolder approach to her sexualized messages with less hidden codes a la Circus' "If You Seek Amy". The eclectic "How I Roll" literally states "You can be my f*ck tonight". The highly infectious "(Drop Dead) Beautiful" praises physical attraction as she claims "Whoever said that beauty is on the inside is liar", and "Seal It With A Kiss" is also heavy in expressive sighs and decriptive temptation. Even seemingly sweet "Trip To Your Heart" associates any kind of emotional depth with physical trysts as she claims she will "Fly away on a trip to your heart" because of the way "Your hands feel me up and down". Track "Gasoline" is another of these sexual beat-thumping numbers, but contains marginally more edge and spark than most of those before it, resting in the company of stand outs "I Wanna Go", second single "Till The World Ends", and "Trouble For Me".

While most of the songs are undeniably catchy, the merit of the album is confined to the basic elements of pure pop sensation. That being said, it is difficult to listen to any song on this album and resist enjoyment. It is a solid pop album that is as tantalizing as it is ambiguous, succeeding at a surface-level artistic exploration of sensual charm and enticing rhythm. None of the tracks engage a depth of truth, and though the entire album drips with vanity from start to finish, Britney's quality has always been found in her ability to entertain as she hits all of the marks that have been designated for her.

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