Album: Britney Spears, Circus, (Jive)

Send in the clowns: Britney's back on top

Amid the hypocritical, hysterical and covertly misogynist uproar which surrounded Britney Spears' meltdown, it would have been hugely satisfying if she'd somehow delivered a killer album. Sadly, 2007's 'Blackout' didn't fit the bill. 'Circus' is a lot more like it.

Kicking off with "Womanizer" – which makes Britney the umpteenth mainstrean artist this year to borrow that Goldfrapp electro-glam sound – 'Circus' judders and thwacks with a state-of-the-art pop production courtesy of Scandinavia's finest mercenaries (including Max Martin, who launched her career). Pleasingly, Spears embraces her new badass reputation. "There are only two types of guy out there: the ones that can hang with me... and the ones that are scared" is a typical line, and I counted at least two "fucks". There's still room for maudlin rubbish such as "Out from Under" and "My Baby", but it's obliterated by the sex-funk of "Lace and Leather" and "If U Seek Amy". 'Circus' will have the haters blushing in shame and Chris Crocker punching the air.

Pick of the Album : Glorious swansong: 'Kill the Lights'

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