Let's get to the point. Femme Fatale is not breaking any new ground and it doesn't set itself out to. It's playful, sexual and self-indulgent. Lyrics never get too deep (which is actually a good thing for Ms. Spears, recall "My Baby"?) so largely everything is club-friendly. First single, "Hold It Against Me" is honestly one of the best and edgiest of the record. Venturing into dub-step territory, it's imitated underground Euro-dance beat is unlike anything on the rest of the album. Like "HIAM", the majority of the tracks are produced by current hit-makers Dr. Luke and Max Martin. These two are responsible for most of the Ke$ha and Katy Perry songs you hear on the radio today…hence where the problem of Femme Fatale lies. They've become so rooted in their production pattern that many of the songs sound like they were going to be used for Ke$ha's third album instead of a Britney album. Written by the "Tik Tok" singer herself "Till The World Ends" is reminiscent of her own song "Blow" as is "Seal It With A Kiss" to her "Blah Blah Blah." For the most part, these tracks still end up working and will have no problem getting radio play.
But where Luke and Martin deliver in clever melodies, they stumble when it comes to handling Britney's voice. We know, the girl has a nasally range of about half an octave, but in the past she's been able to play that off by seductively cooing or adding her country twist, think "Toxic" and the rest of In The Zone. Since Blackout, producers have taken her voice and have distorted it to almost unrecognizable, but yet her vocals still tend to be bland because there is nothing dynamic about them. Using auto-tuner in dance/electronica works when it needs to, but in basic pop/dance songs, it's completely unnecessary. Even hardcore Britney fans cried foul against it's use. I find it strange that Luke and Martin didn't continue what they teased with "HIAM"--pushing the pop/dance genre more left field.
Where the magic lies is in songs like "How I Roll" produced by none other than Bloodshy one of the masterminds behind "Toxic." The techno backbeats are dropped in favor of a poppy/hip-hop style that's maybe not meant for the club but perfect for the car ride to the club (personal experience lol). Another standout is "Criminal," while not my favorite track, it's flute folk-sounding melody prevalent throughout offers some variety from the rest of the album even if it comes at the end.
Here's the thing, most of the tracks on Femme Fatale aren't bad, but they aren't necessarily that good either. I was never really one to judge an album for it's tracklisting, but there could have been some shuffling around to keep the album from sounding like the same song. Also, two of the songs that appear on the Deluxe Edition should have easily been included in the Standard Edition. "Up N' Down" and "Selfish" (the latter from the Stargate production team is a quasi "Only Girl" meets "Sexy Bitch" track with a slick guitar loop begging for recognition) have a distinct sound that would have broken up some of that repetition.
For the most part, Femme Fatale is going to appease her die hard fans, but it's not going to convert anyone who already questions this girl's talent. Still, this IS one of Brit-Brit's better overall albums just not on the same level as Blackout. Admittedly, I under-appreciated Blackout when it first came out, but it was so ahead of the curve, I can't deny how good it is now--even if it was a "producer's album." Femme Fatale is definitely not the Flop Fatale I jokingly say it is, but it also leaves much to be desired. It's enough to get people on the dance floor that is until the novelty wears off.
2.5/5 Wigs Snatched
- Hold It Against Me
- How I Roll