Britney Spears' third self-title LP is probably the best album made to court the bubblegum-teen market. The album has some of Spears' best, hookiest material. The lead-off single, "I'm a Slave 4 U" is a brilliant, seductive dance song, helmed by the Neptues. There is an artistry to the song, that was not apparent before in her work. Also good is the ballad, "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." While Spears' voice is still the weakest spot on the album, her performance does convey the vulnerability of the lyrics -- and her massive vocal limitations actually aide the songs poignancy. The schlockiness of her earlier hits are gone, and while the album is still produced within an inch of its life, the songs work. They're gaudy, sure, but one doesn't go to Britney Spears for subtly.
"Let Me Be" is a great dance song, with a stuttering, mechanical string hook. "Boys" sounds great, with its hip-swinging beat, and "Overprotected" and "Cinderella" hark back to the days of "Ooops...I did It Again," the two songs sound fresh, as opposed to stale leftovers.
The only misstep on this record (and it's a mighty one, at that) is her ridiculous cover of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll," which Spears does not have the rock n' roll chops nor the grit to perform. However, her disco-anthem "Anticipating" makes up for that error, beautifully, easily being the most beautiful song on the album. For once Spears sings without any affectations and her voice is (somewhat) free of the sonic gauze and gloss, and hearing her chipmunk chirp singing about the joys of dancing, over the strings makes this record worth is price.