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Britney Spears, Blackout

Blackout

Britney has lost her humanity in order to make her best album. Vanished, or rather vocoded and processed, her vocals are just another instrument for Blackout's cast of top-dollar producers, among them Timbaland protégé Danja, the same Nordic crew that supplied "Toxic," and Pharrell Williams for sappy closer "Why Should I Be Sad." No pop fluff here, either: Club machines of loving grace are mixed right down the middle for maximum impact, the outside stereo field reserved for Britney's stacked-Borg voice and charmingly strange elocutions. First single "Gimme More" now sounds like a throwaway, ground-softening tease for the banging, analog, well-manicured club music and near-self-parodic come-ons of a blatantly deflowered artist. "Piece of Me" invents Media Karma and rhymes it with "drama"; "Get Naked (I've Got a Plan)" features hilarious male-vocal goading and more steamy Spears. A K-Tel all-star cast of Soft Cell, Kraftwerk and Donna Summer are all referenced to great '80s-refracting effect. Madonna is still the model, but her exhibitionist mode was more Whitman-esque song of herself and only copped to furtiveness as icing; ­Blackout is the ­surveillance-society sex-tape result. Don't call it a comeback.

 
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