Saturday, 1 May 2010

2004 Britney Spears: Toxic

After a sequence of lacklustre singles ('Overprotected', 'I'm Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman', 'I Love Rock 'N' Roll' et al), 'Toxic' marks a shift away from Spears' usual pop/rock/ballad merry go round into edgier, clubland territory. Out go the wrap around choruses and little girl/rock chick persona and in comes a tightly wound fusion of skittish beats, surf guitar licks and left right shrieks of Psycho Bollywoood strings that give her little room to manoeuvre as an artist. And that's all to the good; never the strongest of vocalists, when left off the leash with room to roam, Britney has the tendency to wander off key and off piste and fill in any blank spaces with her 'sexy', punctured lung groans and gurgles. By holding her on a short tether, 'Toxic' plays to her strengths by ensuring her phrasing is kept as clipped and breathless as the rush of the music and the lyric of (love) addiction, with the end result being a tune that's both instantly catchy and cutting edge cool at the same time. That's no mean feat and 'Toxic' is a more than pleasant surprise, though it probably made Madonna suddenly feel very old.

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