By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
From her ’99 hit single “Oops, I Did It Again” to her infamous, sanity-questioning “meltdown” of 2007, pop sensation Britney Spears once ruled the charts nationwide. Since the latter-half of the ’00s, however, her notability has declined, falling short of new-age pop artists such as Selena Gomez. The journey to her recently released ninth album “Glory” has not been an easy forthcoming, but, nearing her mid-30s, Spears proves she still can put out energetic, dance-inspiring music, regardless how uninspired the tracks themselves might sound.
As trends have shifted over recent years, many artists have failed to stay true to the sound that got them to where they stand. Rooted in minimalistic pop, “Glory” holds true to the sound of the late 20th century. However, like 2013’s “Britney Jean,” there IS a noticeable amount of influence drawn from more contemporary music found blasted via radio pop stations today, from EDM beats akin to Calvin Harris or even hip-hop tendencies provided by guest rapping features. One could assume this is merely to “keep up with the times” and gain relevance. Regardless, if it makes people want to let loose and dance, then no harm done, as she successfully did what she set out to do.
Right from the opener “Invitation,” it’s apparent that Spears has her mind set on some sensuous subject matter. She makes risqué references to needing to be blindfolded as the subtle boom-clap of the programmed drums in the background lead the way to the chorus. The atmosphere of this track is more laid-back and less invigorating than the usual Britney track, but it is this that makes it a good stand-out track.
“Clumsy” encompasses the general vibes Spears has brought forth to the table. There’s bright synth, pulsating, hand claps, background “woah ohs” and provocative lyrics. As Spears lets out a snarky “oops,” the beat that drops hard enough to gain entry to any rave in the country. “Call me a fool, call me insane, but don’t call it a day,” she says.
Unfortunately, listeners will come to find that the lines begin to blur after a while. The catchy choruses and hooks are pleasant on the ears but feel rehashed and indistinguishable from a number of other artists. Lead single from the record, “Make Me,” feels quite glossy, and the featured rapping section from artist G-Eazy feels slightly forced and predictable. “Private Show” sounds like it could easily be a Meghan Trainor B-side, with its 60s feel, thanks to its upbeat piano and snaps galore. On the contrary, Spears paints listeners a memoir of a pole-dancing extravaganza on this track, which is territory Trainor would not dare venture into. While the wobbly synth bass on “Do You Wanna Come Over” is infectious, the staccato acoustic guitar strums sound overly-processed and unreal, a problem that has plagued numerous pop tracks in recent years. “What You Need” is one of the more soulful tracks on the album, showcasing Spears higher vocal register and grit. The Motown organs and claps definitely hold their ground but ultimately fall short of memorable.
Spears set out to pack her ninth studio album with fun. While it is easy to give it a spin and unwind, the posing problem of the unimaginative instrumentation makes it difficult to pinpoint tracks at times, and the fact that there are a hefty 17 of them doesn’t help. “Glory” is indeed a fun-sounding record, but the lyricism is far too one-sided, barely brushing the surface of anything besides naughtiness and nightlife. To say one could expect more out of a 34-year-old is reasonable, but perhaps this songwriting mindset is what it’ll take her to top the Billboard’s again, and only time will tell. Spears is indeed holding true to her sound, but maybe it’s best left to those who are still hormonal teenagers. There is foot-tapping to be found on “Glory,” not so much substance.