Britney Spears – Glory
For readers who buy music, splurge on the deluxe edition: you need “If I’m Dancing.” Anchored by a hornet’s buzz hooked up to six thousand amps, this extra track has the star singing at the end of her register, or programmed to sound like she is; the confusion is the point and why not. After releasing the most distracted album of her career three years ago, Britney Jean commissions Justin Tranter, Robopop, and more Scandinavians than the credits to a Bergman film to write and produce a collection as protean, brazen, and sybaritic as any in her catalog. Mattman & Robin are responsible for “Do You Wanna Come Over” and presumably its flamenco guitar runs and the curious line “We use our bodies to make our own videos” in “Slumber Party,” while the NYC axis gets “Just Luv Me,” an electronic crawl through a rueful corner of Spears’ id.
Shimmering, beholden to the kinetic, Glory doesn’t commemorate the kind of good time of dancing till the world ends that distinguished 2011’s career peak Femme Fatale; Spears is on occasion rueful, if that’s possible. “Just Luv Me” explores a disused part of her id, the finger snaps and insistent sequencer accompanying her emotional availability. It has a couple of missteps: “What You Want” is Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” updated for the Spotify age, and listeners stuck for evidence that if you prick her she bleeds need listen to “Private Show” where she proves that she’s long past stripper metaphors. She also get tsk-tsks for allowing the line “Nobody should be alone if they don’t have to be” — how awesome if “coupled” had replaced “alone,” but it doesn’t scan. Proves she’s smarter than me.
Lydia Loveless – Real
She has a sound: tough and rangy, keyed to her electric rhythm strum. Last time she had the songs; this time she has good will. “Heaven” is the best: with its thick bottom, intersecting guitars, and sun-kissed chorus it could be a Rough Trade comp selection from 1983. So are “Longer” and “Same to You.” Nice to hear a song talking shit about Midwestern guys too. But a vacation that went wrong in Bilbao could’ve taken place in Peoria, which I guess is the point: dirtbags who treat uptown girls like they’re all the same are a truth universally acknowledged. Also acknowledged: expended for the sake of hookless songs, charisma has a half life.