Album: Britney Spears, Circus (Zomba/Sony)

2.00

It's anybody's guess how two such high-profile pop acts as Take That and Britney Spears came to release albums with the same title on the same day – especially as neither bothers to develop the circus theme to any extent, save for Spears's claim to be "the ringleader" in her title track, the latest admission of her pathological desire to be the centre of attention ("all eyes on me in the centre of the ring, just like a circus") that made last year's Blackout such a grisly, charmless car-crash experience.

Circus is almost as charmless, but at least it succeeds better than its predecessor in their intention of portraying the former Mouseketeer as some kind of robotic nymphomaniac doll – groaning and grunting "let's make out" with the chilly distance of a future-sex cyborg unit in "Mmm Papi", before plugging directly into the notion of synthetic, emotionless sex with a faceless pleasure-droid in "Mannequin". It's as if her own life is so beset with emotional turmoil that she can't bear any more intrusive feelings in her personal relations. But there are certain standards to maintain even in the world of diva-sex, and while the slap bass lends an apt Seventies porno-funk flavour to the erotic-floorshow anthem "Lace and Leather", the titular pun of "If You Seek Amy" is crass: the entire song is simply an excuse for Spears to sing "All of the boys and all of the girls want to F-U-C-K me", about as cheap as sensationalist outrage gets.

There are glimmers of a more considered attitude towards relationships, with "Blur" notably depicting the morning-after anxieties of an alcoholic libertine: "Where the hell am I? Who are you? What did we do last night?". But the accidental effect of playing such a pop-tart nympho on so many tracks is that the songs in which she's required actually to express feelings, such as the ghastly devotional ballad "My Baby", simply drown in the tidal wave of ersatz emotion, as if she's faked it for so long that she's lost access to the real thing.

But there are moments of salvation, even if they're incidental things like the echoes of New Order's sombre hedonism in the chord structure of "Unusual You", or the way Spears's rhythmic stutter ("Boy don't try to front, I-I-I-know just-just what you are-I-I") brings a surreal flavour of Scottish country-dancing to the prancing techno single "Womanizer". "Radar", an irritatingly catchy electropop groove by Bloodshy & Avant, will doubtless follow "Womanizer" and the title track into the charts, though they do Spears's reputation as a singer no favours. The only track that does is "Amnesia", an ill-judged attempt to route the dramatic, epic-pop style of Lieber & Stoller, Spector and Springsteen through the big-beat rave era, on which her vocals are the lone saving grace.

Download this: 'Womanizer', 'Lace and Leather', 'Amnesia'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices