On ‘Femme Fatale’ Britney Spears Has Her Spunk Back

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Trying to find a trace of Britney Spears on her new album, "Femme Fatale," is nearly impossible.

Twenty-two songwriters (not including the pop princess) are responsible for the album’s content, most of which borders on ditzy fun. Even her vocals have been tweaked and auto-tuned more than usual, reducing them to mere pop vocal collages. Astoundingly, despite Spears' lack of presence she has never sounded better.

Where recent efforts from Britney Inc. have fixated their lyrical attention on the pressures of superstardom (“Circus”) and rehashing tabloid trash (“Piece of Me”), "Femme Fatale" finds her setting aside the Hollywood melodrama. Instead, we get forty-four minutes of beat-driven club bangers that lend a hand in restoring Spears’ long-dormant sparkle.

The party gets off on the right foot with “Till the World Ends,” a hypnotic anthem penned by Ke$ha and executive producers Dr. Luke and Max Martin, that demands listeners find a place on the dance floor. The pace quickens on “I Wanna Go,” a thumping stadium stomper with a uniquely effective whistling backbeat.

Although Spears is most comfortable with these hypercharged dance numbers, her team of über producers leaves plenty of room to use her as their experimental guinea pig.

“How I Roll,” co-written by Spears’ “Toxic” collaborators Bloodshy and Avant, is new age bubblegum pop at its finest with sounds straight from a pinball machine. Elsewhere, Spears gets a Eurodance makeover on “Trouble for Me” and the sweet synth number “Trip to Your Heart.”

Only the album’s first single, “Hold It Against Me,” and the produced “Big Fat Bass” feel stale. But even their redundant flatness is somewhat excusable.

The sole mistake "Femme Fatale" makes may very well be in its title. Based on Spears’ robotic personality on the record, "Femme Bot" may have been more appropriate. But don’t let her distant glare and bottle blonde hair fool you for a second because Spears, after years of meddling publicity, finally has her spunk back.