Monday, June 30, 2014

Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots (2014)

I must admit, that I have a thing about Damon Albarn. Ever since I stumbled upon Blur, I kind of devoted myself to Albarn. I have spent years trying to get to know his style and creative techniques and how his outlook on life has evolved along with his way of making music. But when talking about a guy like Albarn, who has had wide variety of side projects and who most likely will continue having more of them in the future, you can´t really say anything too definite. And even though "Everyday Robots" is a very autobiographical piece of music, it still leaves you wondering.

It´s a conceptual album, the overall idea being that every song on the record is rooted in a real life experiences. The record gives a really eclectic visual, featuring scenes from Albarn's childhood and youth, as well as the times after Damon had decided it was time to grow up. Each track on the album is like a time capsule, giving it´s listener an insight into a certain period of Albarn´s life. Yet the record won´t give you an autobiographical overview, it´s rather a collection of variety of essences, which only try to recreate and convey the atmospheres of those memories.

Many critics have stated that what Damon is dealing with in "Everyday Robots", is midlife crisis. I think not. Firstly because, when taking into account Damon´s previous projects, solo album "Everyday Robots" seems only a natural continuation to his previous work, it fits the pattern. Also, because of the same pattern it´s hard to take Damon´s solo album as a indicator, that from now on he should be defined as solo artist. That kind of certainty just wouldn´t be Albarn´s style.

Secondly, this album is rather a sign, that Damon has made peace with his past, when giving us such a peaceful introspective, which instead of regrets is rather driven by idea that "it was what it was".

The title track was the first single off the album. We know how the story with singles is – they are the appetizers of the main dish, the full-length album. Making "Everyday Robots" the first single was somewhat bold move, since it isn´t your average love-at-first-listen type of song. Talking unprofessionally, it leaves the impression of some weird and creepy hospital machinery making noise that manages to sound like music. As a first taste of the then upcoming album, Damon again proved that for him there´s still boundaries to expand; this mixture of trip hop and downtempo wasn´t exactly something Damon had been practicing publicly a lot in the past, though his latest work with Gorillaz could have easily predicted it. What is spectacular about the single, is how it really found it´s true perspective when appearing as a first track on the full album. Considering the overall mood of the record, it´s a great icebreaker, it even starts with a joke: a sample of 1940-50s comic performer Lord Buckley’s hipsemantic rant about Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. It´s minimalistic structure and accurately weighted use of instruments makes it sound almost too sterile. And when taking into account the lyrics focusing on nature/technology dichotomy it could be that it´s almost a scientific piece of music. For a nostalgic Blur-fan it could be a disappointment, but for a fan who has been bothered to keep up with Albarn´s work over the years, it´s a total grower.

Another, second single from the record, Lonely Press Play", is also a track with it´s own distinguishable beat, considering the title track "Everyday Robots", it works almost as a second chapter of the same book. Unlike "Everyday Robots" this one is lyrically more self-focused and has a softer tune, although this too comes off as very melancholic. Compared to title track this one is definitely a safer bet and whoever lost interest after the first, should have gained it back with the second one. I know people who did.

Last single I managed to hear just before the official release of the album was "Heavy Seas of Love", which included guest vocals from father of ambient music, Brian Eno. As Damon has said, he and Eno are neighbours, so it´s only reasonable that he contributed to Albarn´s debut. Who wouldn´t ask Eno to contribute to their debut album if they´re already going to the same gym? "Everyday Robots" has got many highlights but perhaps "Heavy Seas of Love" is the most important, since as the last track of the album it´s purpose is to provide concluding emotions and thoughts. And if the album as a whole manages to make it´s listener a bit too sad, then "Heavy Seas of Love" works successfully as the soothing balm. But let´s make this one clear – it still most definitely isn´t a happy song.

"Mr. Tembo" is the is THE pop song of the album. Solely the fact that it was dedicated to a orphaned baby elephant makes it the most easily loveable track. The choir make a good addition, giving the song extra layers. Paradoxically, even the choir´s motivational tone won´t make one too happy when listening to this - baby elephants without mummy elephants are sad topic to sing about. "Mr. Tembo" best exemplifies how Albarn has been influenced by his experiences in Africa and it´s the only one on the record that does - this song wasn´t meant to be on the album until producer Richard Russell urged it to be and it kind of shows, because considering the overall sound, it´s kind of off-topic. Though awfully (bitter)sweet.

Talking about the most controversial song on the album, „You and Me“, I must say it is personally my favourite from the album. I love the way this song slowly builds itself up and gets to great heights. And that´s what this song is about; it´s about getting high, more precisely about heroin, the most straightforward lyrics in the song being „Tin foil and a lighter, the ship across / Five days on, /Two days off“. One of my friends once said that doing heroin is like getting one thousand orgasms at once and „You and Me“ kind of proves it. It´s the one song on the album that gives very strong visuals about ultimate rapture and satisfactory and regret about wanting more. It sounds honestly magical and though the name of the song almost indicates that it´s going to be your average love song, it´s not. It´s about love, love that is super unhealthy and very very bad for you.

Though I can say "Everyday Robots" is one of my favourite albums from this year so far, the overall electronic and triphoppy sound makes me miss the raw guitar sound that Blur´s other mastermind, Graham Coxon did with Blur on their album "13" in 1999. Perhaps next time, besides - "Everyday Robots" is only a layover, nothing final, 46 years of age can mean that one is only halfway through. For now I expect nothing and only great things from this man, though he has already established himself as a great musician, keep in mind that he has this weird habit of surpassing himself when creative. The end.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tom Vek – Luck (2014)

„Who the heck is Tom Vek?“ asked a member of one team at the music quiz in Tallinn about a year and maybe a half ago after one of the answers turned out to be „Nothing But Green Lights“ from Vek’s 2005 debut album „We Have Sound“.

Almost superstar in some, admittedly small scenes, now 33 year old Vek or Thomas Timothy Vernon-Kell to his teachers and tax collectors, is still relatively unknown to larger crowds and still bubbling under.

He seems to be alright with that as with every album, tho „Luck“ is still his third, Vek drifts further and further away from mainstream. While „We Have Sound“ and his sophomore album „Leisure Seizure“ were still more or less pure pop, no matter how offbeat, „Luck“ can be at times pretty tough to listen to.

Again, Vek doesn’t seem to try much, if at all to appeal to wider audience, having taken 7 years off from music industry between his first and second album. On the other hand, wider audience seems to be a bit immune to his music as even appearing on „The O.C.“ and the soundtrack of „Grand Theft Auto IV“ didn’t achieve much for his fame. Does he care? Doubtful.

Early years or Sid from "Skins" minus the beanie. 
Sometime around releasing the debut album "We Have Sound".

At first listen „Luck“ can seem rushed and unpolished, chaotic and almost schizophrenic, quite as if it were thrown together randomly and never revisited. But going back and listening again and again, you’ll be drawn in and at some time it dawn that sounding random at that level need lots of work and clever planning.

„Luck’s“ opening track „How Am I Meant To Know“ starts as a slow thumping noise, unmistakenly tomvekkian, „Sherman (Animals In The Jungle)“ starts the dance and doesn’t compromise, being as catchy and dancable as Tom Vek has ever been. See and hear at your next indie disco and let’s see how many of you will come asking who the performer is in the songs four minute duration. My bet would be about five of the eleven attendees.

Vek’s music is so unmistakenly his own that if you’ve heard him once, you’ll probably recognize his voice and sound always. As first two tracks could very well come from any of his previous records, third, „Broke“ shows some new and fresh developments, Vek moving a bit towards the sound of Beck, which can’t be a bad thing (especially for rhyming purposes) and really isn’t. Then come the sounds that remind a soundtrack to some old Turkish films and even then sounds Vek as much himself as ever.

There might be bit of notion that Vek is better listened one or two tracks at a time than the full album at once as it all’s still quite the same. Maybe framed by some other artists, keeping shuffle mode on all the time. Quite fitting as that seems more and more to be the way we listen to music anyway.

Tom Vek - Broke

After six singles from his debut,Vek has so far released only three more, tho „Luck“ probably and hopefully will be a source for many to come. It should at least. Vek for me has always been an artists for releasing everything as singles more than as albums, let’s only hope his record company feels the same.

Having dicovered Vek quite soon after he released his debut in 2005, i’m trying to imagine my thoughts if „Luck“ would be my first time meeting his music. Vek channels for me the best parts of music history, pairing Talking Heads with Gang of Four, throwing in LCD Soundsystem and pouring symphonies from alternate universes all over this mixture.

Look, mom, I'm a vase. Vek in 2014, looking at something we can't see.

Mumbling, screaming and just talking quietly to his listener, Vek sounds at all times content and confident, as he’s once again, third time in a row, created the best album ever made. At the same time his music might sound like it’s never meant to enter outside world but stay for ever between the six walls of his studio, bedroom, shed or wherever his magic happens. But it might be the same thing, you can be confident if your creating music only for yourself.

„No time for existencial crisis,“ declares Vek in second to last track „The Tongue Avoids The teeth“ and yes, as eclectic and all over the place „Luck“ sounds, there’s no crisis here. That chameleon really seems tobe his true identity. Even when he picks up the acoustic guitar in „The Girl You Wouldn't Leave For Any Other Girl“ and almost thrashes it, at the same time wailing and screaming as desperately as a street musician 20 cents lacking of his next dose of cheapest beer.

Best in class at camouflage.

While the overall concensus seems to be that „Luck“ like „Leisure Seizure“ three years ago deserves lukewarm reviews at best, there’s much to discover and while it probably really won’t reach the explosion that was „We Have Sound“ (has it really been nine years?), it’s still one of the highlights of 2014 and offers many positive surprises, sounding at times as fresh as ever. Take „You’ll Stay“ for example, which sounds like a travelling circus riding through a meat mincer.

Tom Vek - Nothing But Green Lights (from debut album We Have Sound)

And, as Underrated probably remains his middle name for every member of his fanbase, Vek stays the best thing ever for select few and total unknown for everybody else, and it might be best for everything except his bank balance.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Eminem - The Eminem Show (2002)

Eminem’s fourth studio album The Eminem Show came out on 28th May, 2002. It was the highest-selling album of the year in the United States.

At that time, I had just turned 11. I remember when my older brother got the album for his birthday he had the CD playing non-stop for weeks. Back then, my biggest idol was probably Britney Spears. I barely knew anything about this Eminem guy and I knew absolutely nothing about rap music. Yet I didn’t mind when my brother blasted The Eminem Show in our house until the songs became ingrained in my brain – in fact, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Listening to the album many years later, I can say that even though I’m an occasional rap listener at most, it is one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to. Indeed, The Eminem Show is often claimed to be one of Eminem’s greatest and most personal work, and it is not surprising why – it’s passionate, it’s provoking, it’s powerful. Eminem sits us down and tells us “It’s my turn to talk and you are going to hear what I have to say.”

The album starts out with a short skit Curtains Up that serves as an intro to White America, Em’s angry rant about government’s censorship of his music in fear that it would have a bad influence on American youths. Naturally, Eminem does not take kindly to these attacks and delivers his brutally honest response in fierce verses that leave no one untouched. Humorously though, he ends the song in a joking manner “Haha, I’m just playing, America. You know I love you.”

Business which was produced by Dr. Dre continues in slightly lighter tones by imagining Eminem and Dre as the hip-hop versions of Batman and Robin in the noble mission of ridding the world of talentless rap criminals. It’s confident and unapologetic.

But things get a lot more personal with Cleanin’ Out My Closet, one of Eminem’s highest-charting singles of his career, where Em pours in all his anger and resentment towards his drug-addicted mother Debbie as he reveals the scars of his childhood. The song is filled with sarcasm and raw angst, remaining as one of my all-time favourites from Eminem. Although, it’s worth mentioning that Eminem apologized to Debbie last month on Mother’s Day by releasing the music video for Headlights, expressing his regret over the harsh comments he has made about her parenting, particularly with Cleanin’ Out My Closet. It does serve as nice mature conclusion to the unresolved family drama that has lasted for decades.

Eminem addresses his long-time beef with Jamaican-American rapper Canibus in his next track titled Square Dance. It’s rather low-key for a diss-track, showing Em’s clear disinterest in the feud. However, the song is more intriguing as a political rant as it also tackles political issues and criticizes Bush’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the following three tracks The Kiss (skit), Soldier and Say Goodbye to Hollywood Eminem retells the events of his assault on a bouncer whom he had seen kissing his wife Kim. He talks about his legal troubles, bashing lawyers and judges, and about wanting to quit his career as a musician because fame makes him feel alienated from reality: “I sold my soul to the devil, I'll never get it back.” 

Drips, in collaboration with Obie Trice, is extremely explicit (though, expectedly so considering the subject matter) as Eminem and Obie take turns to tell a story about a girl who gives them both STD. Perhaps not the most profound song from the album, but it serves as a proof that there isn’t anything Em is afraid to discuss in his music.

And then there’s Without Me which is pure genius (along with its absolutely hilarious music video). Eminem takes on the role of his alter ego Slim Shady and gives us the most addictive song from the album. It’s a wonderful example of Eminem’s talent of making jokes about himself and laughing along with us. Though he fearlessly ridicules pop artists, Em also doesn’t mind poking fun at his own image. But most of all, he recognizes his importance in the rap music scene, particularly because of his controversial statements that get everyone riled up. After all, it simply “feels so empty without him”.

Another skit follows titled Paul Rosenberg, where Eminem’s manager leaves a frustrated voicemail to Em because of a gun incident at the studio, telling him to leave his “fucking gun at home”.

Eminem reflects more on the destructive effect that fame has had on his family life in Sing for the Moment. The song beautifully incorporates a sample from Aerosmith’s Dream On, emphasising the power and influence of music. Eminem once again defends himself against accusations on his rap lyrics, claiming instead that his music offers hope for depressed youths.

Next up is Superman, featuring Dina Rae, which explores Eminem’s past relationships with women who were only after his money or fame. The message is misogynistic and, at times, the whole song comes across as rather disturbing. It was rumoured and later confirmed by Eminem that Superman was about his relationship with singer Mariah Carey, or to an extent at least.

Hailie’s Song, however, is another personal favourite of mine. The tough custody battle with Kim over their daughter serves as an inspiration for this tender and emotional tribute to daddy's little girl Hailie. Eminem sings more than he raps in the track, and although he doesn’t have the vocals of a singer, the refrain still has a unique memorable sound.

In Steve Berman skit, Eminem finally "snaps" and shoots the CEO of his record company, having heard enough criticism about his lyrics. Though ironically, the man was just about to praise Em's new album.

Eminem’s hip-hop group D12 is featured in When Music Stops, rappers taking turns to talk about their lives and how fame has changed them. But above all, the song is about differentiating music from reality and about the rappers’ responsibility towards their young fans.

The second and final diss-track from the album is Say What U Say by Eminem and Dre in response to Jermaine Dupri. As I feel rather unresponsive towards diss-tracks in general and because it simply doesn’t hook me, it’s my least favourite song from the album.

Fortunately, the intense verses of Til I Collapse (featuring Nate Dogg) wake me up right after. In this track, Eminem raps about the rap music scene that is flooded with popular but uncreative rappers.

Eminem ends the album ever so gloriously with the playful but bat-guano-bonkers My Dad’s Gone Crazy. Inspired by Hailie playing with the mic in daddy’s studio, the song begins with Eminem snorting cocaine and Hailie unexpectedly walking in on him. The contrast between Hailie’s adorable yelps in the chorus and Eminem’s effortless but awfully obscene raps is both disturbing and humorous, yet oddly compelling nonetheless.

And finally the Curtains Close as another one of Eminem’s alter egos, homosexual Ken Kaniff steps on the stage to deliver the last lines of The Eminem Show:

“Is this thing on?
Where'd everybody go?
Guess who's back?
Back again…
Ken is back, tell some…men
Rub my back, rub my back, rub my back, rub my back…

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie (2014)

Rival Sons, a Californian blues rock group that the Classic Rock Magazine has hailed as “saviors of rock and roll”, has just released a new album called Great Western Valkyrie. I must admit that it is an album that I have been dying to hear for quite a while, ever since the band announced that they have started working on new material. I have been an adamant fan since I first heard the band, right after the release of their second album, Pressure and Time, and with the recognition they have been receiving from the blues rock community, they have quite big shoes to fill with the new one.

The band was formed in 2009 when the other members convinced Jay Buchanan, a folk singer at the time, to try rock ’n’ roll, and thank god they did, because otherwise, one of the greatest modern rock vocalists might never have found his calling. The drums are handled by Michael Miley, who as an interesting side note resides in Estonia, when the band is not on tour. The guitarist of the band is Scott Holiday and the current bass player is Dave Beste.

Great Western Valkyrie seems to keep Rival Sons’ winning formula going: make pure and unadulterated blues rock, the way it was made in 60’s and 70’s. The album feels gritty and powerful, but most importantly, human. They haven’t sucked the life out of the songs by overproducing or over-editing them. Most of the songs have been tracked live, with the whole band together and most of what ended up on the album were the first or second takes of songs. It has been the way they’ve done things from the beginning, and to me that is a big part of the Rival Sons’ magic. You get what you hear, and the best part is that they are able to reproduce the same thing in a live situation.

The sound of the album seems to be both more refined but also in some aspects much wilder.  The album as a whole feels much tighter and more consistent sounding than Head Down, the previous record. But Scott Holiday, the guitarist seems to have turned all of his fuzzes up to eleven. The guitar sounds are definitely much more gritty, fuzzy and experimental on the new album. On Head Down, pretty much the whole album sounded the same as far as guitars are concerned, but on Great Western Valkyrie, Holiday seems to have worked a lot, trying to find different sounds to suit each song, and I certainly think it has been a big improvement. However, the main thing that caught my attention, was how big and punchy the drums sound, I’m sure that Michael Miley’s chops  play a big part in this, but whatever they did this time, it feels like a perfect modern answer to John Bonham’s quest for the ultimate drum sound.

As far as the songs go, right off the bat, the first one, Electric Man, gets the album off to fuzzy and groovy start with the ballsy guitar and huge drums. Electric Man was also the first track released as an iTunes teaser. Throughout the song, Miley lays down the Rival Sons’ signature hit the bell as hard as you possibly can drum groove, which Beste nicely compliments with a funky bass track. The band took quite a blow, when the previous bassist, Robin Everhart announced sometime in last year that touring life is not for him, and they will need to find a new bass player. So far it seems that their choice has been a very good one.

The next song, Good Luck, keeps the energy of Electric Man going with a nice, slightly cliché breakup song, which includes an interesting, gritty sounding dialog-like solo in the end. The third song, Secret, kicks things into next gear and is undoubtedly the most intense one on the album. Miley and Holiday have seriously outdone themselves with this one, the heavy swinging feel of the song is something to be revered. As far as the vocals are concerned, well, you can almost hear the ripping of Buchanan’s vocal chords despite the pretty heavily distorted vocal sound. Play the Fool keeps the classic Rival Sons’ vibe going and is another upbeat song, with a little jam section in the middle, to give it a more interesting twist.

Good Things, however, is something completely different, a slower, more laid back song with a very prominent keyboard part. The keyboards are something that in my opinion separate this album from the previous ones, the band has always included some keyboards, tucked away in the back of the mix, but on Great Western Valkyrie, they are much more prominently featured and Good Things is the most heavily keyboard driven song on the album. It is also the song that seems to feature Beste’s best bass work, with a groove that is absolutely vital to the song.

Open My Eyes is the first official single of the album and opens with a very Zeppelinesque phased drum intro, followed by the heaviest and most memorable riff of the record. It’s quite easy to see, why this track was chosen as the first single, it really grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go, until you’ve been thoroughly shaken by the badass groove.

Rich and the Poor is another song with prominent keyboards, I especially liked the way that the guitar and the keyboard work together to compliment the main melody in the bridges of the song, and for that reason, this one became my favorite from the album.

Belle Starr also differs from the usual upbeat Rival Sons song and combines heavy guitars with slower and more relaxed sections. The song is about a notorious American outlaw, but for some reason feels like it would be more at home as a Bonnie and Clyde type movie soundtrack.

Where I’ve Been is the only ballad on the album, it has quite a significant country feel to it as it progresses from its quiet acoustic beginning to the intense end with some nice touchy-feely lead guitar work by Holiday. The last song, Destination on Course also starts out as a ballad, but ends up in a crazy psychedelic jam, with some very interesting guitar leads thrown all over the stereo panorama. I also like the fact that they included some choral singing in this one, it really seems somewhat out of place, but intensifies the psychedelic, trippy feel of the song.

As a whole, I think that Great Western Valkyrie is some of Rival Sons’ best work up to date. It delivers pretty much exactly what the fans were expecting from them: a raw intense rock album with a few quirks thrown in for good measure. Although I feel that the quirk department was a little lacking for my personal taste. The album could definitely have used another song like Destination on Course, essentially a nice jam song, but the current offerings are by no means bad and I’m sure that it is another Rival Sons album that will become a modern classic as far as blues rock goes.

Taavo Teras

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Britney Spears - Blackout (2007)

When I was a child, my father had a job in Moscow, and he would bring back CDs every time he came home. One time, he brought me a Britney Spears album, ...Baby One More Time, and since then, I have been hooked. Britney was my idol back then (don’t laugh!) and, in a way, symbolizes my childhood. I suppose that’s really the main reason why I like her so much – she reminds me of the times I was a happy, carefree child, dancing in the living room to Oops!... I Did It Again or dramatically singing along to Lucky. As I got older, I started to like her music less and less – it either got worse (highly likely; don’t even get me started on her 2013 release Britney Jean) or my taste just changed.
That being said, I still like some of her songs and albums partly because of the memories I associate with them. There is one Britney album, though, that I absolutely love and have loved since it was first released. It is called Blackout and is Britney’s fifth studio album, released in 2007. It is known as her comeback album as her previous release, In The Zone, had been in 2003. I don’t expect you to be aware of all things Britney, so I will shed some light on why Blackout can be called her comeback album and why it’s so important.
In October 2004, Britney married American dancer Kevin Federline, who she had met only three months before. Spears took a career break to start a family, and went on to give birth to two sons – Sean Preston and Jayden James. Britney and Kevin couldn’t make their marriage work, so they ended up getting a divorce in 2007. After that, things started going downhill for Britney, who checked herself in and out of rehab, lost custody of her children, and generally just went crazy. In February 2007, she shaved her head with electric clippers while laughing hysterically at a hair salon in Los Angeles, and got several random tattoos done in one session. This was naturally all over the news, but for those of you who still don’t know what I’m talking about, here is a reminder: 
So, obviously, Blackout received some serious attention from the media when it was released in October of that same, hectic year. The album consists of 12 songs and features producers such as Danja, Jim Beanz, Bloodshy & Avant, and The Neptunes, among others. With names like these, you can’t really go wrong. The result is a collection of futuristic electropop – way ahead of it’s time. Every song is upbeat, catchy, and gets stuck in your head for ages. It was unlike anything else I’d heard before, and definitely unlike anything Britney had previously released.
Normally, you would expect to find a couple ballads on a Britney album, maybe something about her children, and a few love songs thrown in there, too, but that’s not the case with Blackout. It opens with Gimme More, and when you hear Spears say (which some call the most important line in pop culture) “It’s Britney, bitch!”, you immediately know that this is not going to be a typical Britney album. The song is catchy, it’s fun, and shocking too, letting the listener know that Britney is no longer all sugary sweet, and can be seductive too. But Gimme More is just the beginning of a very unusual Britney album.

The next song on the album, called Piece Of Me, is one about the media, with lines such as “I'm Miss bad media karma / another day, another drama” and “I'm Mrs. 'You want a piece of me?' / tryin' and pissin' me off / well get in line with the paparazzi / who's flippin' me off”. It has kind of a euro pop sound, which wasn’t that popular at the time. Radar has that same euro pop sound, but it’s spiced up a bit with bone-chilling synths and vocals that are a bit robotic and stretched out so much that they almost sound unnatural.

The vocals are the only real issue of the album for me. While I like how every song sounds, it can’t be denied that the person singing doesn’t really sound like my beloved Britney Spears. Her voice is constantly clipped, splintered, chopped; just generally interrupted and, of course, drenched in autotune. The result is that she, at times, sounds like a robot, and not like herself at all. Britney has one of the most recognizable voices in the music industry, and therefore it’s kind of scary how different she sounds on Blackout. On Freakshow, her vocals are messed with so much that she even sounds like a man at one point (but maybe that’s what the producers were going for?).
To be honest, though, the fact that Britney’s voice is altered so much on Blackout isn’t the worst thing in the world, because it doesn’t sound bad; besides, it kind of fits the vibe of the album. It is worth noting, though, that on some songs, Britney’s voice almost disappears just because you end up paying more attention to the different, exciting production and not so much on what the singer is saying. Heaven On Earth is one of those, a trance track that just sounds so interesting that I can’t be bothered to pay attention to the lyrics (even though they are quite sweet! It’s a love song... Obviously.)
Get Naked (I Got A Plan) has an amazing sound, too, and is probably the best song on the entire album. It’s dark, sexy, mysterious, throbbing, seductive, and even a bit frightening: you just don’t expect Britney to release a song in which she sings “Baby, I’m a freak and I don’t really give a damn / I’m crazy as a motherfucker, bet that on your man”. Basically, it’s a song about sex (like Perfect Lover towards the end of Blackout). Floyd “Danja” Hills, the man behind the song and most of the material on the album, sings the chorus of the song with his crazily stretched out vocals, making him sound a bit creepy, but it works in this case. Get Naked has so much going on at once that it can be overwhelming, but it sounds great nonetheless. It’s probably my favorite Britney song to this day just because it’s so different from her other stuff. 

Another track that truly stands out on the album is Freakshow, which, like Piece Of Me, is about the media, making fun of the paparazzi and everyone else following and criticizing Spears. That is not what makes it different from the rest, though: the song introduces elements of dubstep, and Britney isn’t really singing on the track, but rather rapping. It’s bizarre and I didn’t like it at first, but have grown to love the song over time. Freakshow is something you would dance to at a club. 

The very last song on Blackout is produced by The Neptunes and titled Why Should I Be Sad? In the song, Britney discusses her relationship with Kevin Federline and admits she was a complete fool for being so committed: “My friends said you would play me / but I just said they're crazy / while I was crying, praying / was it true?” It’s essentially a kiss-off to Federline, as Britney realizes she doesn’t need to get mad or feel sad over what happened, and is ready to move on. Perhaps at the time the song symbolized that Britney was, in general, ready to pull herself together and get out of the deep hole she had dug for herself. Therefore, it fits the album well and is a nice way to end Blackout.

Blackout is considered to be Britney’s best work to date, with many people expecting something like this from her again. It sounds so different from anything else she has ever done, and is the first time she actually voiced any real opinions about her personal life. I will always be able to play the album from beginning to end without skipping a track – even now, seven years after it’s release, it sounds like something that came out a few months ago. The sound of it just doesn’t get old. Even if you don’t like Britney Spears and think I’m out of my mind for praising something she put out, I suggest giving Blackout a listen anyway.