Britney's latest album: Two views on Blackout


BLACKOUT Rating four -- Britney Spears (Jive Zomba)

Britney's latest album: Two views on Blackout

BLACKOUT Rating four

Britney Spears (Jive Zomba)

Reveling in schadenfreude over Britney Spears's recent meltdown is so popular that slamming her comeback album could have been a slam dunk. Especially with its horrendous cover design.

But Blackout is so obviously Britney's best album, and it also arrives at a time when she needs the press and public's focus away from her private life and back on her music.

Despite all her poor choices of late, she's managed to ask herself one intelligent question: What would Madonna do? Answer: Hire the hottest dance producers and make a banging club record.

Blackout is best described as a weaker version of Madonna's Confession on a Dancefloor, as a hot dance record that sizzles and even smoulders at times. Lead single Gimme More kicks off the album's head-bobbing mood, but it's the second track, Piece of Me, that's its first grabber. Over a searing electro groove, a confident Britney sings, "I'm Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous/ I'm Mrs. 'Oh my god that Britney's shameless'/ I'm Mrs. 'Extra extra this -- just in'/ I'm Mrs. 'she's too big, now she's too thin.'"

The infectious Get Naked (I Got A Plan), produced by Danja, (who worked on Justin Timberlake's Futuresex/ Lovesounds) is as good as any JT single, and should be the one you can't escape on radio or at the club. Over a sensual, thumping beat, Britney kittenishly purrs, "What I gotta do to make you wanna move my body?"

There's also a lot to like about Break The Ice, Why Should I Be Sad and Perfect Love, on which we find the otherwise coy pop tart coo, "Tick-tock, tick-tock, can you (expletive) me while I'm hot?"

But some tracks just don't work, such as Radar, in which Britney's voice is tuned up so high she sounds like she's 14, and Hot As Ice, a cheesy pop tune that sounds like a remnant of Ashlee Simpson's debut album. Ultimately, Blackout's greatest strength and most shocking characteristic is its ability to be heard from start to finish without making you jump for the skip button. The question is, are there enough music fans out there still willing to give Britney a chance?


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