Britney Spears returns to form, reshapes her musicality, and has a damn good time doing so on Glory...
"Here's our invitation baby / hope it sets us free" pop legend Britney Spears coos on the introduction to her ninth studio album Glory. After months of elusively teasing the album's release (and even more waiting and seeing on behalf of her belabored fans) it is finally here! Glory opens with a fragile outpouring of emotion from our beloved hitmaker; it's a daring move, and one that promises big things. Luckily enough, Britney Spears is ready to deliver!
The album comes at a crucial time in Spears's career. After 2013's lackluster Britney Jean, which promised personal cuts but delivered generic electronica, Britney Spears was at a turning point in her career. She could either evolve as a songstress or fade to the background in the face of today's chart toppers. Her decision is overwhelmingly evident with Glory. Britney is on a mission; she's coming back, looking delicious, and she's on her way to reclaim her Pop Throne. After all, it's Britney, bitch, and no one puts Britney in a corner...
Glory's lead single and buzz tracks proved that the pop icon was prepared to break some longstanding traditions surrounding her musicality this time out. The G-Eazy's assisted lead single "Make Me..." eschewed her clarion call to the dance floor and coquettish moans in favor of something a little more... Vibey. She served a lush vocal arrangement over sweet synths, coupling her seraphic vocals with G-Eazy's urban edge to achieve something new and cutting edge for her discography. Buoyed by a Top 20 debut, the track ushered in a new age of Britney Spears.
After "Make Me..." Britney managed to keep fans on their feet with a slew a promotional, instant grat tracks, each of which showcased the new and unexpected. She batted her eyes and twitched her hips over a production that blends the sass of urban pop with the jauntiness of doo wop on "Private Show." The track saw some of her most ambitious and engaged vocals to date and vibrates with the energy of a playful striptease.
The ragtime inspired "Clumsy" saw her referencing her earliest hits and bedroom eyes over a more traditional EDM production, and her final promotional release, "Do You Wanna Come Over," is probably the most Britney Spears of them all. Boasting a throbbing bassline and coyly delivered lyrics, Spears takes it from the dance floor to the bedroom for a healthy romp in the sheets.
While each of the tracks introduced a new side of Spears, they admittedly presented a somewhat uneven glimpse at the album that is Glory. It was unclear how these disparate songs that incorporated such diverse, genre-hopping styles would blend into a cohesive album. Don't you worry your pretty little faces though! With one listen to the entirety of Glory, those worries evaporate. Somehow Britney manages to combine the heavenly synths, throbbing bass, frenzied beat drops into one sumptuous bundle.
After opening with the organic and fragile "Invitation" (seriously, it's one of her best ballads to date), "Make Me..." and "Private Show" follow, then we break into the aural "Man On The Moon." With a writing credit from the emerald haired up and comer Phoebe Ryan, the track feels like a more resolved revisiting of Britney Jean's "Alien." Cosmic theme? Check! Introspective lyrics about lost love? Check! A raw glimpse into the mind of one of the biggest pop stars of the new millennium? We're three for three here, folks! Boasting a swirling production and heartfelt lyrics, Spears pines for a lost love while soaring through the deep reaches of the milky way.
Next comes the highly anticipated Spears-Cashmere Cat collab "Just Luv Me." The track has been a fan favorite since a brief snippet of the moody midtempo leaked in the weeks leading up to Glory's release, and it's fully mastered form is even more (dare we say it) glorious. "I'm not gonna ask you for nothing / just luv me" Spears vulnerably croons over atmospheric synths and smooth keys. It's a surprisingly fragile call for love from the popstar who is renowned for disguising the more raw edges of her life in the public eye behind a pristine facade. Piercing the mystique, "Just Luv Me" is an easy standout on Glory. It's rumored to be in the running to receive the single treatment, and it's truly deserving of the limelight.
One of the most exciting announcements regarding the recording of Glory came when Britney Spears posted photos in the studio alongside Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels. The pair were largely responsible for crafting some of the biggest hits of the last year (Bieber's "Sorry" and Gomez's "Good For You") and are easily some of the brightest young writing talents on the scene. As such, it should come as no surprise that "Slumber Party," one of the first collaborations between Spears and Michaels, is a certified bop. The R&B and reggae infused slow burner is a laid back bedroom anthem, on which Britney's vocals languidly caress her lover's body. It's like 50 Shades of Grey, but with a luxurious and velvety Red Room that hosts two lovers getting it on...
While love and sex evidently played a large role in the development of Glory, it clearly wasn't all rainbows and butterflies for the pop princess. Spears promised that there would be some "I hate men" tracks on the release, and the first of which is "Just Like Me." Opening with an acoustic guitar, the track incorporates some trap-lite elements on the chorus and sees Britney walking in on her lover boy getting it on with her clone. Spears voice resonates with earnest pain and confusion as she pronounces that her lover's side chick looks "just like me." It's a heartbreaking moment for the Britney, who struggles to come to grips with the infidelity over the imaginative production.
After that heartbreak, Britney lets her body do the talking on the brazen romp that is "Love Me Down." Boasting a lusty production and some feisty rap/sung lyrics, the "Slave 4 U" hitmaker is at her most come hither as she begs her man to "love her down." She sounds at ease and confident as she brazenly rides the beat and delivers some moaned ad libs before losing herself in ecstasy on the post-chorus.
Following her seductive evening Spears tries to erase a lover from her mind over racing synths on "Hard To Forget Ya." The Bollywood-inspired production sets the scene for a massive pop moment from Britney Spears. It's a refreshing moment that serves as a bit of a pallet cleanser before we move into another groundbreaking moment on Glory: "What You Need..."
Over the course of her lengthy career Britney Spears has flirted with a pop rock sound but never fully embraced it. She put a dime in the jukebox and proclaimed her love for old school rock on her cover of "I Love Rock 'N Roll," delivered a thrillingly biting cover of Alanis Morrissett's "You Ought Know," and recruited Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker to add an edge to Femme Fatale bonus track "Don't Keep Me Waiting," but she's yet to fully embrace her rocker chic edge. Enter "What You Need." Closing out the standard edition of Glory, it growls across the soundscape.
"I got that good, good stuff you can't erase" Britney cockily snarls across the production. Her proclamation demands listener's attention, and her adorable pronouncement of "that was fun" in the final moments closes out the standard edition on a surprisingly playful note.
In true Britney Spears fashion Glory's deluxe edition houses material that is just as good if not better than some of the numbers that made the official cut...
The first of those is the Tranter and Michaels assisted "Better." Easily Britney's most current number on the album, "Better" is a delectable serving of tropical house that would burn brightly atop the charts. With production from Bloodpop, who also helmed Bieber's "Sorry," the breezy track is a refreshing release. Although rumors (that have since been proven false) originally linked Justin Bieber to "Just Luv Me," it's markedly easier to imagine the Purpose crooner lending a verse here. His pioneering of the tropical house movement would only add to the bright release and make it that much more likely to explode.
The standard edition of Glory showcases a decidedly global flare, and that carries over into the bonus tracks. "Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortes) sees Britney Spears dusting off her Rosetta Stone tapes to beg a Latin lover to get a little nas-tay over a striding production.
Things get downright heated as Spears tells off a cheating lover on the barbed "Liar," and it's another stupendously brazen "I hate men" moment on Glory. Blending symphonic instrumentals with an urban country edge (bet you never saw that one coming), Spears tells her man to suck on her toe (figuratively) and proclaims that she "ain't fucking with your dirty laundry" (literally, slay queen).
The track's early aughts inspired production and self confident lyricism draws parallels to Britney's "Lonely," and "Liar" has the potential to become just as beloved to her fan base. Renowned as one of the kindest and least dramatic artists in the industry, it's surprisingly nice to see Britney bare her teeth a bit. It's easily the single fiercest moment on Glory and possibly throughout Spears's discography.
Experimental, carbonated twerk anthem is literally the only way to describe "If I'm Dancing." Britney's vocals soar over a dramatically unhinged production, as she loses herself in her lover's music. It's an endearing and daring release, and the proclamation that she sees "candy-coated heart shapes" upon making eyes with her boy pushes it over the edge into pure, unadulterated pop magic. The track is Britney at her most playful and cutting edge, making it all the more endearing.
It's Frenchney, bitch. In an homage to one of her most beloved albums to date, Britney Spears closes Glory out with an ode to a love so fierce that it kills the lights (and effectively refenerces TWO moments in Spearstory) on the darkly brooding "Coupure Electrique." Delivered entirely in French, the track's title literally translates into "blackout" and is as mysterious as her 2007 album of the same name.
"I forget the world, when you make / make love to me, my love / like a power outage" Spears icily croons (in FRENCH, it's multi-lingualney, bitch) over a production that growls and clicks across the soundscape. The resulting magic closes out Glory with a moment that is as enticing and mysterious as Britney Spears herself.
With writing credits on more than half of the album and her most engaged vocal performances in eons, Glory delivers everything that was promised on Britney Jean and then some. The pop icon has clearly rediscovered a passion for her music, and she embraced it in style. It's easy to imagine Glory joining Blackout and In The Zone as one of the most beloved album's of Spears's career.
Glory is more than a return to form for Britney Spears. It's a creative rebirth and an invitation to join her on her journey. With every crooned lyric, every ethereal synth, frantic beat drop, and every thoughtfully delivered lyric the pop deity beckons us a little closer. True to form, her spark is electric. It's the word of Godney, and it's a word worth listening to. The album is easily one of if not the best in her discogrpahy, and it's a true contender for the best and most cohesive album of the year.
Glory will be available for purchase on August 26! Pre-order HERE!