If every parent in Hollywood who took cocaine socially had their children taken away from them, California would need to build enough orphanages to cover the desert. The hypocritical spectacle of the bloodsucking leeches crawling out into the light to condemn Britney Spears has been one of the least edifying of 2007. It would be so satisfying to report that her fifth studio album is an absolute belter, just to annoy the misogynist moralisers, but the prosaic truth is that Blackout is merely alright. The career of the female pop star is akin to a slow-motion strip-tease, and when Britney Spears stepped out of a car and showed us more than her Caesarean scar, the strip was over. In which case, one wonders whether the audience hasn't drifted away. Had Blackout been released pre-meltdown, it would have sold as many as her previous four. Aside from "Piece Of Me" (Britney's equivalent of Jacko's "Leave Me Alone") and "Why Should I Be Sad?", a Pharrell-penned 'up yours' to K-Fed, there are few hints of recent travails from the crazy Creationist. There's no "Toxic" this time, but a dozen pieces of seamless sexed-up electro minimalism and airbrushed R&B, as head-noddable as they are forgettable.
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