One thing that all fans of Britney Spears can agree with is that it’s obvious when the 34-year-old entertainer is truly enjoying what she’s doing.
For several years following her well-documented 2007 mental health episode, the joy and energy that exuded through Spears’ music and stage performances waned rather heavily, beginning with her shaky MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Gimme More,” and leading all the way up to last year’s one-off single, “Pretty Girls,” with Iggy Azalea.
The strongest show of nonchalance, however, was found on her last full offering, 2013’s Britney Jean, which was lauded by critics and fans alike, and in turn, became Spears worst-selling album to date.
Luckily for us (and for Spears), that spark that once made it impossible to ignore her has since been reignited and replenished, and it has shown up not just in her Las Vegas residency show, Britney: Piece of Me, but in her latest melodic work as well. Glory, Spears’ ninth album, displays this regaining of power immensely and helps to mold what could be her best work since Blackout, which was released at the pinnacle of her breakdown period.
In fact, we’re being totally honest about things, Glory actually comes close to besting what is seen as Spears’ pop opus, 2003’s In The Zone, partially thanks to her attempts to tackle new and surprising styles and genres for the disc. For the first time in a long while, it feels as if Britney is once again leading her show; something she claimed, but failed to do on 2009’s Circus, as opposed to being led into it by a group of producers or her sound engineer.
The end result is something wonderful to aurally witness.
Glory kicks off with the sultry and perfectly-titled “Invitation,” a slow-burn of a mid-tempo ballad.
“I’m ready to reveal it,” Spears seductively coos, “let inhibitions come undone. Here’s my invitation, baby, hope it sets us free.”
That literal opening leads to the first official lead from Glory, “Make Me…,” which may not be doing well in chart position or video accompaniment, but is still one of the best singles that Spears has released in quite some time.
Following that and “Private Show,” which was released as a Glory perk two weeks ago through iTunes, we come to the introspective “Man On The Moon,” a song that fans of Spears might understandably connect to one of the many negative standouts of Britney Jean, “Alien.” Unlike that track, where Britney was overproduced into her feelings of loneliness by Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am, “Man On The Moon” is more about realizing that just as with all good things, true love takes time.
“Patience, darling, wait for the night
Darkness comes and love comes alive
I’ve been right here dreaming of you
Waiting for my man on the moon…”
Later on the disc, we come to two catchy club-bangers, “Clumsy,” another Glory tune that was released previously to tease the album, and the bass-laden “Do You Wanna Come Over?,” a electro-pop number that has Spears promising that she’ll do “whatever you want” and “whatever you need” to keep a lover satisfied with her company.
The reggae-tinged “Slumber Party,” which follows, allows Britney to get a little more explicit with her desires and intentions.
“We use our bodies to make our own videos,” she sings. “Put on our music that makes us go f***ing crazy, oh!” Not that innocent, indeed.
In case anyone needed a reminder of her international relevance, Britney does so with not one, but two languages on deluxe bonuses for Glory: “Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés)” and the completely-French “Coupure Électrique,” which holds a sweet and direct nod to the aforementioned Blackout by way of the title’s translation. It also makes up in one song what all of Britney Jean couldn’t do as a complete work by adding even more of a personal touch to the disc (Spears also had a hand in co-writing seven tracks on Glory, including “Coupure Électrique”).
Glory, glory, hallelujah, Britney Spears is back!
Stand outs: “Private Show,” “Do You Wanna Come Over?,” “Slumber Party,” “Love Me Down,” “If I’m Dancing”
[Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP Images]