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leak of the week

Leaked: Britney Spears’s Appealingly Odd Femme Fatale

We posited a few weeks ago that as goes Britney’s hair, so goes Britney. Following our own logic, we should have taken her recent Out magazine cover —in which a team of stylists managed to, finally, help girlfriend get her weave semi-right — a bit more seriously. (To be fair, we were reeling from Britney's answer to the question, "What album do you consider life-changing?" Answer: "Natalie Imbruglia’s Left of the Middle.") Turns out that shoot was, in fact, a harbinger of sorts: Britney’s album, Femme Fatale, has leaked (listen here), and though it can't change the fact that Spears is dead in the eyes, it's interesting. Yes, it's a record of heavily produced dance songs, but it's both not that bad — way better than we would have predicted after the mediocre lead single "Hold It Against Me" — and also a little strange. It actually contains the rap, thankfully, not delivered by Spears, "You got me hot but I ain't sweating you/ steaming like a pot full of vegetables." Let's get down to dissecting the broccoli.

As for the songs themselves: In terms of the singles, nothing is better than the already leaked, Ke$ha-supplied "Till the End of the World." (Who did more for Brit with her track than Will. I. Am does with his contribution, "Big Fat Bass.") "Inside Out" sonically references, in its intro, Justin Timberlake's Britney takedown "Cry Me a River," and "Gasoline" has some of the clearest vocals on a Spears song since "Stronger" or "Crazy" (we don't mean best, just literally — that you can hear them). "Trip to Tonight" is a nicely satisfying, radio-ready "Waiting for Tonight" rip-off, and "Seal It With a Kiss" sounds like a summer jam. One song that is pretty much not a single is "How I Roll": It's a charmingly cracked-out nursery rhyme — simple and cloying, and with some limerick-level lyrics about tequila. It's the sort of song that rewards people who still listen to albums as albums: something you would never hear on the radio, but is a likable curiosity. To our ears, that's the first such song in Britney's entire oeuvre. Like we said, strange.

As for the songs themselves: In terms of the singles, nothing is better than the already leaked, Ke$ha-supplied "Till the End of the World." (Who did more for Brit with her track than Will. I. Am does with his contribution, "Big Fat Bass.") "Inside Out" sonically references, in its intro, Justin Timberlake's Britney takedown "Cry Me a River," and "Gasoline" has some of the clearest vocals on a Spears song since "Stronger" or "Crazy" (we don't mean best, just literally — that you can hear them). "Trip to Tonight" is a nicely satisfying, radio-ready "Waiting for Tonight" rip-off, and "Seal It With a Kiss" sounds like a summer jam. One song that is pretty much not a single is "How I Roll": It's a charmingly cracked-out nursery rhyme — simple and cloying, and with some limerick-level lyrics about tequila. It's the sort of song that rewards people who still listen to albums as albums: something you would never hear on the radio, but is a likable curiosity. To our ears, that's the first such song in Britney's entire oeuvre. Like we said, strange.

Photo: Splash News/Candie's