- Britney Spears' eighth studio album was released on December 3
- The record, "Britney Jean," is intended to be more intimate
- Yet some critics have found the disc to be impenetrable
Britney Spears' latest album is supposed to be intimate, but it's left a number of critics cold.
The 32-year-old singer's eighth record, "Britney Jean," was officially released on Tuesday after streaming on iTunes for the past week. As early reactions indicated, "Britney Jean" isn't quite as warm and inviting as Spears has made it sound.
"I poured my heart and soul into this album," Spears told her fans in an open letter on her website. "I know I keep telling you it is my most personal record yet, but it's true and I'm really proud of that. I have been through a lot in the past few years and it has really inspired me to dig deeper and write songs that I think everyone can relate to."
Yet to Entertainment Weekly, which gave the album a B+ grade, "Britney Jean" "tells you virtually bupkus about her struggles over the years. But in just 10 tidy songs, it brings us closer than ever before to that distant dreamer."
The Washington Post wasn't as gentle in its review, finding that the ironic lack of intimacy on "Britney Jean" makes the disc "instantly forgettable."
"The result isn't remotely personal, doesn't venture much beyond the usual Britney themes -- fame is confusing, sex is fun, I am a totally normal person with the same worries as you, let's dance -- and will do nothing to reassure anyone that the once familiar, pre-2007 Britney is in there anywhere," the review says.
The Atlantic agrees, dismissing "Britney Jean" as Spears' "most disappointing release yet, a snoozefest of shallow mid-tempos and limp club tracks that chase trends rather than invent them. And the glimpses into Britney Jean Spears, the artist, are, frankly, neither interesting nor informative."
The Los Angeles Times warns that "whatever unique skills Spears once had -- what were they again, anyway? -- 'Britney Jean' suggests she better prepare herself for the reality that she's losing them fast. ... There's very little beneath the album's many cliches to suggest insight, let alone the unfiltered honesty of autobiography."
That said, if you're a fan of post-2007 Spears, which includes the smash album "Blackout," then "Britney Jean" might be your cup of dance-pop tea.
Rolling Stone gave Spears' effort three-and-a-half stars, appraising "Britney Jean" as continuing "the roll she's been on in recent years. ... Like her excellent late-summer electro-sleaze hit, 'Work B***h,' 'Britney Jean' adds up the high price of stardom. It's a concept album about the loneliness of pop life -- with a high-profile broken engagement behind her, Brit gets personal and drops her most bummed-out music ever."
MTV, too, was able to see the heart underneath the driving beat.
"Most of the tracks sound like a wild night out," the network said in an early review. But added "it's when you dig under all the reverb and EDM beats that you hear that 'Britney Jean' really is coming from her heart -- one beating at 500 miles an hour."