‘Femme Fatale’ for an album title is very fitting for Britney Spears. That would be due to ‘Femme Fatale’ being synonymous with hordes of flirtatious club banter, lots of promiscuity and large doses of appreciation for the male genitalia. Evidently, who ever wrote it definetely had penis on the brain. Sex and raves go hand in hand these days, and one thing you can’t say is that ‘Femme Fatale’ lacked cohesiveness. Overloaded with electronic beats and symphonic midtempos, ‘Femme Fatale’ is a very current pop record. Spears exerts much of that sexual prowess on leading singles ‘Hold It Against Me’ and ‘Till the World Ends’. The Max Martin and Dr. Luke produced cuts are packed with soaring synths and lots of electronic flare that pay ode to being sexy on the dancefloor. Of course with a particular fella she’s in hot pursuit of. ‘Hold It Against Me’ is much more easier to embrace due to the dubstep dipping. Plus, at least she successfully manages to put her own stamp on the record.
The Kesha penned ‘Till the World Ends’ is another story however. The dizzying synth and electropop composition was not produced as a Britney tune, but moreso to channel the same repetitiveness of a Kesha record. Compared to what we are use to hearing from Britney, the club cut is generic, underwhelming and lacks originality. Her barely there vocals have clearly been tweaked by synthesisers and during the chorus, her singing is overridden by backup singers. Kesha probably knew she was writing this for a new Britney record. As Britney is a high profile artist she wanted to make people aware that this was HER record glossed over by thee Britney Spears. She might as well have had her name tagged all over the entire song as far as I’m concerned.
The pop minx continues her quest for seduction by ensnaring her ex into bed before they break up for good. ‘Inside Out’ is so slutty and direct, it’s brilliant! It also uses some dubstep as well. Compelling midtempos like these with subtle vocal processing is what works best for Britney Spears. One of the reasons why I might even favour the track is because it is so reminiscent to ‘Don’t Go Knocking on My Door’ from her ‘Oops’ LP. All of that pent up sexual tension is further magnified on the retro ‘I wanna Go’ and its 90s sounding electronic backing. It’s an okay song. I’m just not really feeling how much her vocals are digitally chopped up. This again, is not Britney Spears. This is a gotdamn computer.
Bloodshy & Avant rework their magic on yet another Britney record in the form of ‘How I Roll’. The production duo, who previously produced ‘Toxic’ and ‘Piece Of Me’ have managed to lace her up with something hot, fresh and current. The heaping synths, low piano chords, handclaps and sing-a-long chorus over the groovy beat work well. Piercingly saucy lyrical content plague the record in which she sort of raps/speaks in a cooful, yet playful tone. It is still up in the air as to whether she is saying “You can be my thug tonight” or “You can be my f*ck tonight” but given the overall nature of ‘Femme Fatale’, I’m prepared to go with the latter. I mean, she only went and dedicated a whole entire song to a penis (‘Drop Dead Beautiful’).
‘(Drop Dead) Beautiful’ is an interesting track and we finally get to hear Sabi rapping in full (Nicki Minaj would have been too predictable). Although the chorus falls quite flat, after a few listens, the energetic club cut becomes quite addictive. However, ‘Seal It With A Kiss’ is even more toxic. The sexy cut features another dubstep breakdown. Although she uses dubstep with the lead single, this particular track uses it throughout. Could it become the first dubstep-electronic influenced song to impact US pop radio?
Of course the album has further shortcomings. ‘The Big Fat Bass’ is a big fat pile of autotuned mess. Usually, I don’t like to judge snippets because they are so misleading and dishonest. But I just knew that hearing the electropop cut in its entirety would not sway me. Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am produced the massive high treble beat and says that the song celebrates bass. “Bass is an important element to club dance music” he says. In no way is this track something to be celebrated. Swiftly moving on.
The chorus synth in ‘Trouble For Me’ is pretty insane. For the first time in Femme Fatale‘s journey, Spears finds herself running away from the penis and not chasing after it. Meanwhile, ‘Trip to your Heart’ is like that cutesy breathy synthpop ballad of pledging love. It’s a midtempo cut but lyrically, it qualifies. Guitar-laced synths plague the production on ‘Gasoline’. She uses her trademark cooing vocal delivery as she requests for the guy to provide that fuel source of (sexual) energy. The album closes with ‘Criminal’, laced with strings and a delicate flute hook, and acknowledging how it’s not smart to fall in love with a bad boy, but does so anyway.
Verdict: ‘Femme Fatale’ is a fun, electronically-fuelled dance record made strictly for the club. The beats are much more synth heavy and she’s full force into the electronic movement. Clearly, someone did their homework to ensure this album consists of music which pop radio only caters to. While Femme Fatale lacks the urban edge and overall genius which dominated ‘Blackout’, it is still a rock solid pop record, which possibly may have bested its predecessor ‘Circus’. Rating – 3.5/5
Standouts: Inside Out, How I Roll, Trouble For Me, Seal It With A Kiss and Gasoline.