Say what you will about Britney Spears but if anyone is the new queen of reinvention it is her. The former teen queen may have had a hectic year filled with drama and controversy but she’s putting it all aside and focusing on her music. After the darker and lackluster album “Blackout,” Spears returns to her roots with “Circus.” With its deeply personal lyrics and bumping beats this is the album Spears fans have been waiting for and even fans of pop should find something even if they aren’t fans.
Pros: There are more than enough stand-out tracks than lackluster ones which is great since the last album was vice versa. The first single off the album “Womanizer” returns Spears to her girl power anthems and use of club beats. It’s a successful first single but nothing compared with the title track “Circus.” “Circus” is probably the second best song off the album and it could be compared to early Madonna or Rihanna’s “Disturbia.” With lyrics like “all eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus” it’s easy to see where Spears draws inspiration from her own crazy life. It’s the “Oops I Did It Again” of the album and expect it to be massive when it hits radio. “Kill the Lights,” “Shattered Glass” and “Radar” all return Spears to the electronic synthesizer she always uses and are great club tracks. Its odd seeing “Radar” return as it was originally on “Blackout” but it’s one of the underestimated tracks of that album so maybe it will get more attention here. They’re all great songs but seem to blend together. “Mannequin” is an odd track as it seems a bit more Middle Eastern with the guitars but is one of the more unique dance tracks. It’s more hypnotic in the vein of “Slave 4 U” which I found interesting. The 70’s are also called back in the song “Lace and Leather” which is another odd song you can’t help but love. Its evident Spears tried out a lot of different elements and all the tracks are fluffier compared to the more urban style of Blackout. The best song on the album has to be “If You Seek Amy.” This is the song that will be remembered because it is all the best Spear’s song rolled into one; this is the album’s version of “Toxic.” The song details a woman who is a “bad girl,” (possibly Spears herself) and how everybody wants her. Mark my words this is the best song on the album. There are two ballads I really enjoyed on this album and they are vastly different. “Out From Under” is the first and seems the least like something that would be found on a Britney Spears album, maybe because it’s a cover from indie artist Joanna Pacitti. The song is pretty but it doesn’t feel right on this album. I’m putting in the pros because it is a sweet song. The best ballad has to be “Blur” and it feels like the most personal to Spears. With haunting lyrics where Spears asks “Where the hell am I” and “What’d we do last night” it’s easy to see this is the song that Spears used to cope with her crazy year. It’s beautiful and personal and Spears really throws her voice into this one.
Cons: The songs listed here just seem generic and not the strongest. Spears always has a few weak tracks and it’s mostly the bonus songs that are the worst. “Rock Me In” and “Phonography” are the bonus tracks and they are the weakest of the bunch. The latter is a silly song about love through cell phones and it’s nothing short of bad. I really think these bonus tracks would have been better scrapped. “Mmm Papi” is an oddball supposedly about Britney’s father and it’s just hyper. “My Baby” is a cheesy song about Spears children that does nothing compared to the stronger ballads mentioned in the above section. The sweetness becomes too much and is enough to give you a toothache. I also have to say if you’re not a Britney Spears fan or a pop music fan than you will hate this album. Spears does the same type of music she’s always done and if you didn’t like it then, you won’t like it now.
Overall: “Circus” is a great album and really proves that Britney Spears is committed to her music. It’s a far lighter, and more upbeat, album than “Blackout” with far more great songs than bad. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Spears return and this album proves it. I give the album a 4/5.