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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