It’s safe to say that Britney Spears’ recent career has been shaky. Despite having a successful run in Las Vegas with her Piece of Me show, her previous album Britney Jean faced criticism from all sides thanks to questionable participation from Spears herself and a generally lacklustre set of songs. The outlook wasn’t looking much better with the release of Pretty Girls last year, but after a shift in direction and new songs, things are starting to fall into place; in short, Glory is the best we’ve heard from Spears in years.
Following on from the bland pop of Britney Jean and the generic yet catchy EDM of Femme Fatale, Glory feels like a return to the basics for Britney. The slinky, sexy vibe of Do You Wanna Come Over? feels like the second coming of her In The Zone days, mixing warbling synths and strumming guitars in a way Spears hasn’t covered in years. The throwback R&B of Private Show and sparse yet energetic soul arrangement of What You Need feel very much like the higher points of Circus, foregoing most modern pop elements without losing their pop spark. It’s very much a celebration of the weirder parts of Spears’ discography, which is exactly what we needed after a few rough years in terms of music released.
That’s not to say it’s all a throwback; the album does stick to modern trends on a few tracks with varying results. The lead single Make Me feels especially generic on this album, feeling even more anonymous among more interesting tracks. Slumber Party starts like Britney’s sexier R&B songs, like Blur, but spins reggae into its chorus in a way that feels much on trend after Gwen Stefani’s This Is What The Truth Feels Like, which is enjoyable but isn’t quite as good as it could have been. On the brighter side, the simple dance style of Hard To Forget Ya is much more enjoyable without having to resort to any surprises to pick itself up, and If I’m Dancing mixed an ethereal dance track with some Diplo-style synths and vocal loops in a way that feels contradictory to itself but still somehow works.
Thankfully, the production across the album remains coherent enough that the mix of trendy and weird doesn’t detract from the experience. Even when Britney spins foreign languages into her tracks, she manages to pull it off; while Change Your Mind (No Seas Cortés) keeps it simple and never ventures behind its title in terms of Spanish lyrics, the closing bonus track Coupure Électrique is sung completely in French. While her pronunciation isn’t quite up to par, she sounds good enough over the slinky, hesitant beat that it remains enjoyable.
Glory is very much used as a chance for Britney to try out some new things with her music, and more often than not it comes off as a success. While some of the more on-trend songs tend to get lost in the mix, the remaining tracks are imaginative and fun enough that it’s barely even a problem. Sure enough, even Britney herself sounds like she’s having more fun than she’s had in years, and it adds a whole new spark of energy to the album. Old and new fans are sure to find something about Glory to get excited about, now that Britney Spears has well and truly found her footing in the music world once more.