Album Review: Britney Spears - "Glory" (by Mikey)

Britney Spears is back with her ninth-studio album, "Glory"! And instead of beginning this review with a bunch of boring stats that we all know, or an expose on the ups and downs of Britney's life and career, let's just jump right in and review some "Glory"'s best songs!




First things first, Myah Marie is dead! Well, not really, but the entity known as "Myah Marie", aka the lady singing on most of "Britney Jean" is nowhere to be found on "Glory". Every lead staccato note, belt, chirp, yelp, growl, croak, ad-lib, airy come on, breathy coo, perverted purr, and stacked harmony are all from Britney herself. Secondly, "dead-eyed Britney" is dead! Britney has never sounded more alive, alert, aware and enthusiastic than on "Glory". Thirdly, unlike previous albums where production took center stage, this time the spotlight is only on Britney. Her voice remains the centerpiece throughout the entire album from the "Ooohs" in "Clumsy" to chorus of "Liar", she's always in the forefront flexing her voice and range in a way she's never done before. Whether it's a babyish coo, a bratty nasal whine, reedy and deep, or a girlish hiccup -- each tone is dynamically different from the other, yet still Britney. It's her timbre and distinctive enunciation that set her apart from the gaggle of legitimately vocally talented pop stars. It's been a while, but Spears is finally injecting personality and exuding artistic confidence in her work instead of hiding behind a producer's direction and the clutch of autotune.

The album opens with “Invitation” and serves as the best album introduction Britney has ever recorded. The Mischke produced track sets the tone for the rest of this chilled-out LP. Britney’s voice, mostly whispered and airy, is dead centered; delicate and fragile so that even the slightest vocal quiver projects the strongest of emotions. The run she hits (yes, Britney is hitting runs) on the second verse's closing word ("cloOose") is quite magical. Very reminiscent of the recent offerings from Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, “Invitation” is a provocative r&b/pop track with minimalist production and cheeky lyrics that finds Britney inviting her lover to “put your love all over me.” Girl...

“Man on the Moon” opens with Britney singing in a filtered falsetto, “Dark mascara dripping down my face…”, before breaking out into a tactfully harmonized chorus of “I’ve been right here dreaming of you waiting for my man on the moon; moooOooOoooOooon.” The spacey production and augmented vocals gives “Man on the Moon” a celestial vibe, it literally feels out of this world. It’s a classic, mid-tempo, electro-pop Britney ballad, and the most PG offering to be found on “Glory”. Lyrically, it coyly plays up the "man on the moon" analogy: "Houston, I know we have a problem" and "...in your arms so strong", which is a direct reference to Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon).

“Clumsy” is a fun song and a certified bop! Vocally, it plays with Britney’s lower registers and the instantly recognizable nasal drawl she’s affected over the years. Audibly, “Clumsy” sounds like a love child between Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lesson’s” and Lady Gaga’s “Teeth” who was raised by "...Oops! I Did It Again" – does that make sense? Lyrically, the song is unapologetically all about the Dick (i.e. “Head first, then slide it out, again and again” “Banging all over this bedroom” “Foolin’ around and then we smash, again and again”). But you probably wouldn’t notice it at first because the production instantly grab’s the listener with its successful blending of classic EDM bass drops with church-like backing choral vocal. It’s catchy as fuck and it makes perfect sense why it was released as a promo-single.

Based on the lyrics alone, it’s hard to believe Grindr didn’t commission Britney & Co. to record “Do You Wanna Come Over” just for their app. Like Grindr, "Come Over" is dirty, sticky, shameless, and exactly what we want in a Britney sex song! Spears trades in the “I’m a mom now” image she’s adopted over the years in favor of the oversexed Robo-Brit we met on 2007’s “Get Naked” – and as a fan, we couldn’t be more appreciative! Sidebar: pay special attention of the song’s counter-harmony buried deep underneath Britney’s lead vocal singing “doooooooo you waaaaaant to-come over?”, it’s insanely catchy and an instant earworm.

“Slumber Party” sounds like 2016 Britney phoned 2004 Britney to meet for Starbucks and on the way stopped at the studio to record this bop! By the drop of the first hook your body will no doubt be whining in your chair. Her clear vocals sound tender, sincere, romantic, and most importantly unadorned by post-production tricks. It’s a slinky r&b tinged track that lends itself to the atmospheric production of records by Drake and The Weeknd. The chorus is seductively nostalgic and gives kids from Generation Z a sense of what people did before there was "Netflix n Chill"

“Just Like Me” is one of the album's most diverse productions, as it's the almost acoustic in its approach. It's sung in Britney’s iconic nasal twang but with an air of experienced maturity. The chorus finds her voice demonstrating its cleanest belting of her post-VMA 2007 career; it is at this moment of the album Britney firmly cements herself as a confident vocalist. No, she’s not Adele or Beyoncé, but as of right now, she’s never sound more poised and self-assured in her vocal abilities. Lyrically, “Just Like Me” vividly paints a scenario not unfamiliar to Mariah Carey’s 2009 heartbreaking ballad “Betcha Gon Know”, as both songs are about the emotional ramifications of catching your man red-handed in the throes of passion with another woman. By the end of the song you will have already envisioned the entire music video concept, cast the actors, and secured a set in your head.

"Love Me Down" sounds like Britney Spears was dared to out-Gwen Gwen Stefani; and she did, with flying colors. This is a tune! Similar to most Stefani uptempo tracks, it begins with Britney speak-singing over a bubbling bassline before transitioning into a lowkey dancehall bop! Surprisingly, it doesn't sound forced at all, and actually fits Britney's sassy vocal arrangement like a glove. The pre-chorus "round and round we go til we fall like dominos..." is sickening and is the most rhythmic she's ever sounded! My personal highlight of the song is the ad-libbed run Britney hits at 2:31-2:38, as she stretches her voice from one extreme to the next while maintaining her natural tone.

“Hard To Forget Ya”, subtly borrows melodic elements from Mandy Moore’s 1999 hit “Candy” and it surprisingly fits the song like a comfortable pair of jeans. Clearly inspired by Britney’s early 00’s prime, “Hard To Forget Ya” is a nostalgic pop ditty that builds into a culmination of production and feature’s one of Britney’s most defiant choral vocals. In the song, Britney sings about a lover she can’t forget no matter how hard she tries. Like Britney Spears herself, there’s “just something” about the lover that makes him so difficult to forget. This repeated theme reinforces the idea that “Glory” is reaffirming Britney’s legacy by reliving the most iconic characteristics of her early 00’s heyday.

 “What You Need” closes the standard version of “Glory” and is the album’s vocal standout. It is a winning display of her range and ability to vocally command a song. "What You Need" sounds like a glorified show-tune that any self-respecting Vegas showgirl should have in their repertoire; and it borrows heavily from an unexpected source of inspiration. The song’s middle 8 for example is a knowing nod and wink to Tina Turner’s classic “Proud Mary” – to be honest, so is Britney's vocal performance throughout. Never has Britney ever sounded so, ummm…black Southern. Vocally, she attacks the song right from the beginning, wielding her voice like a dagger that stabs each note with aggressive precision. Growing, belting, harmonizing, and warbling throughout, Spears hones her inner diva and comes out of the box swinging on this one. Even the loudest naysayers who doubt her vocal prowess as a “singer” will have to give the girl props for this performance---she showed out. You're right Brit, that was fun!

“Liar” continues to assert early 00’s realness as it sounds like something possibly found on Pink’s debut album. Again, these comparisons are not a slight towards Britney nor her creative process, but rather a tipping of the hat, as a means for Spears to show recognition and respect to an era of music that helped build the pop throne of which she currently sits. “Liar” features one of album’s catchiest chorus, an anthemic wailing of “…you know I know that you’re a liar, a liar!” sung in multi-tracked harmonies. Throughout most of the song Britney’s voice is deep, hard, and direct – but it’s not icy, instead there’s a warm edge to it that conveys rage and anger. “Liar” earns “Glory” it’s “Explicit” sticker ("I ain't fuckin' with your dirty laundry") and it's no doubt the one song Katy Perry is most jealous she didn’t record first.

“If I’m Daaaahncing” is flighty, whimsical, and a little bizarre, but all in the best ways possible! It’s the album’s penultimate track and the most produced as evident by its vocal manipulation and frenzied syncopation – think of it as a first cousin to “Femme Fatale”’s “Trip To Your Heart”, but with more depth (and frankly more Britney). Soon to be a staple in gay clubs across the US and Europe, “If I’m Dancing” also boasts a welcomed reprise of Britney’s infamous British accent, yay! Like Britney, this song also has us “bowing in devotion.” It's fickle bridge finds Britney detailing her lovers fascination with the color of her chakras is a particular highlight, "My chakra's all been green and red, but he wants blue and green instead".

“Coupure Électrique” is arguably the sexiest track Britney Spears has ever recorded in her 20+ year career. Loosely translated to “Blackout” in English”, “Coupure Électrique” is the final track on “Glory” and is sung entirely in French. The song itself is mysterious, icy, and dark like most of the "Blackout album". Britney uses her voice to beautifully contrast the song’s hard, back-breaking bassline by singing in soft, melodic tones and intonations. Britney’s brilliant use of her falsetto, paired with nuanced phrasing and enunciation demonstrate her skills as a capable vocalist – two words not many would associate with Britney Spears. Good job! It’s a shame though, as it’s one of Britney’s finest recordings, deep down I know “Coupure Électrique” only exists to serve as a transition in Britney’s Vegas show to give her time to change leotards.

"Blackout" lead the movement for the takeover of robotic, urban electro-pop on radio. "Circus" inspired the pop girls to experiment with their sound and to collaborate with unlikely producers. And "Femme Fatale" lead the charge of dubstep infused radio-friendly pop music. "Britney Jean" was a hot mess. This time, Britney Spears is more concerned with concentrating on rebuilding her own legacy and focuses on the elements of her pop career that made her the undefeated "Princess of Pop". She's no longer lost in the shuffle of her own productions, now, she's at the forefront of the chaos and couldn't seem more at home. "Glory" is a fine return to form for the 34-year-old mother of two and is a body of work she should be proud of. Second only to "Blackout", "Glory" is already being touted as Britney's best work as an artist...do you agree?

4.5/5 

-Mikey (@Sublime00)

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