Eighteen days before its official release, the non-deluxe version of Britney Spears' Femme Fatale has leaked—yes, in full, none of that snippet crap—and as one might expect from an album overseen by Dr. Luke and Max Martin, it's a collection of club-ready tracks that are pretty forward-sounding (although there are more groan-worthy pickup lines in the lyrics than a night at a crappy club... one that would probably be playing this record over its speakers, actually). While it's not quite as late-night-hazed-out as the 2007 masterpiece-in-retrospect Blackout, it definitely has a dark edge to it that calls back that album more than the overly cheery Circus.
The album's two best tracks are products of Bloodshy & Avant, the Swedish production team responsible for Spears' "Toxic" and "Piece Of Me." They're both restrained in comparison to the the more aggressive dance tracks that have already been officially released, but that restraint actually results in songs that are supremely satisfying. Take "How I Roll," which starts off with some Britney beatboxing (!) then mutates into a glitchy, loping track that sounds like the product of a really intense come-down:
And then there's "Trip To Your Heart," which is the closest the album gets to a love song; Britney's voice is produced in such a way that one wonders if she instructed B&A to make her sound "like a bunch of bubbles." (Hey, we are talking about the woman who put a whole Titanic skit in the middle of one of her songs. It's not entirely out of the realm of possibility!)
These are the definite highlights after two spins, but overall, the record is pretty good! And it's growing on these ears with each listen—even the will.i.am song, although points off to him for reusing the stuttering beat from "OMG" for its big build.