We've had to wait three years since Britney Jean for Britney Spears' new album Glory. While that may not seem as agonizingly, torturously long as the four year wait since Frank Ocean's last album, that's still 1095 days too long — especially when you take into consideration the fact that Britney Jean wasn't exactly what fans were hoping for. But if Britney Jean was a disappointment to longtime fans of the singer, then Glory is a triumphant return to the Britney, b*tch, that we know and love. It's everything that fans have wanted from Spears since the earliest days of her career, and everything that we want to see from Spears going forward. It make Britney Jean looks like a bad memory, but in the best kind of way.
Let me explain. The 2013 album's emphasis on ballads and heartbreak following the break off of a high-profile engagement to Jason Trawick may have been an attempt to communicate the real Britney Spears to the world but it wasn't typical Britney Spears sonically. Where was the attitude, the stompy dance floor electro pop, the can't-not-shake-it beat?Perhaps the underwhelmed reception to Britney Jean just goes to show Spears was never meant to be a confessional artist.
Her voice is instantly recognizable for its chilliness — you could never falsely attribute a Spears track to any other artist. Maybe it's a production quirk, maybe it's genuinely her strangely futuristic, robotic voice (though, as previous videos, have implied, there could be a bit of post-production going on). But, for whatever reason, Spears' work is most powerful at its least personal. Perhaps it's because, despite the crazy wealth and even crazier work-ethic, she is most moving in her role as an everywoman. And you can't be an everywoman when everyone's already aware of the specifics of your life.
Here's where Glory comes in. Glory is the Britney Spears album we've been waiting for because it's deliciously schizophrenic in themes, covering all the bases: sex for fun, sex for intimacy, lying partners, partners who date someone who looks just like you afterwards, overly polite guys who you want to do rude acts to you, crazy stupid love, dancing. It makes no attempt to be anything other than it is: a 17 track tribute to every possible type of woman in the world.
It also boasts a list of producers as varied as the album's themes: according to Vox, the producers on the record have worked with artists "from Rihanna to Kelly Clarkson, Kanye to Charli XCX, Justin Bieber to Lil Wayne." You can hear this diversity in sounds on the songs. The album's got it all: dance floor bangers, slower ballads, and classic pop songs. Literally, a song for every sort of listener. The album's songs all represent the everywoman that people look to Spears to be.
The one personal aspect the album showcases is the one that we were really missing on Britney Jean: fun. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Britney Spears is the contradiction she personifies: she's simultaneously a pretty convincing babe-droid (see her appealingly robotic performance in the "Toxic" video) and a total goofball (see her Instagram account, which, as someone who doesn't tend to follow celebrities on Instagram, I feel duty bound to inform you is genuinely pretty good). When Spears exclaims "That was fun" at the end of "What You Need," it doesn't feel like a cute marketing trick. It feels true, partly because the songs make up a catchy, carefree dancefest and partly because Spears seems like in a far better place these days than she's been in years.
So if you were turned off Spears by her last album, give this one a try: it's a handy reminder as to why Spears was so important to so many women all over the world to begin with. And it reminds us that, no matter what's going on in our lives and in the world, we're still able to have some pure, unadulterated fun.