Britney Spears Circus

Britney Spears Circus
In a year, Britney Spears has transformed herself from a raving, bald-headed umbrella attacker back into the gorgeous starlet millions first fell in love with at the turn of the millennium. Last year's Blackout was wish-washy, an attempt at a comeback that fell short, save for a few tasty morsels (namely "Piece of Me" and "Heaven On Earth"). However, Circus, her sixth album, confirms that, yes, Britney's back and hopefully for good. Whereas Blackout felt like it was thrown together on a whim, Circus is a much more focused record, despite knowing that Spears's involvement was clearly just some co-writing credits and vocals. Still, what her team of producers have assembled for her is a reflection of her "circus life" amidst a series of fantasies that plays out as a completely listenable full-length - something she's struggled to do from beginning to end throughout her career. The opening thrill of "Womanizer" is the best rush she's given us since "Toxic," arguably her two best singles to date. She wisely brought Timbaland protégé Danja back into the fold and he delivers on the ridiculous yet "bootiful" "Kill the Lights" and the even better "Blur," a woozy, beat-driven mid-tempo joint that's exactly what Britney should be doing at this moment. The mid-point packs a mighty one-two punch with Max Martin's dumb but sugary "If You Seek Amy" and album standout "Unusual You," a deep bass-driven stab at Euro-style pop - another direction she should keep in mind for the next album. But what Britney needed most for her repertoire was a strong ballad and she has two here - the modern poise of the R&B-ish "Out From Under" and "My Baby," a baby-bum soft acoustic number that is terribly AOR but undeniably heartfelt. In spite of the occasional miss, like the feeble bubblegum of the title track and the perverse "mommy and papa" freak-show that is "Mmm Papi," the album not only gives her fans what they've been waiting for but it's also an affirmation that all of the media attention certainly inspired her to bring her A-game and prove she's still at the top of the pop chain. (Jive)