It’s one of my favourite records, but it’s also one of the few records from the last decade or so to become part of my mental furniture - one of the sad side-effects of my years as an ‘actual’ rock critic was losing the time and habit to feel that sort of cosy feet-up familiarity with records. I am really pleased I got to write about it and hopefully do my bit to build a bedrock of critical support around this record in particular and Britney in general. Listening to it - which I do every month or two - I always feel like the things it’s doing to the voice, and to the presence of the pop singer in the song, are things that the rest of pop has really never quite matched. It ought to feel dated, and it hasn’t to me yet.
Now obviously there’s a problem, in that Britney was ill (to some degree) when it was made, and under media siege, and now lives a life to some extent outside her own control. And even when I was writing about Blackout for Pitchfork, this context was obvious, and I remember thinking, am I romanticising this stuff? Are the creative decisions that I think are terrific here being made as a way of papering over the cracks in a star who basically needs not to be making records? If I’d been writing about, I dunno, Syd Barrett in 1968 how shitty would I feel later given what happened? Luckily nothing that bad happened to Britney - and also Blackout is the culmination of what had been going on in her music as far back as 2000 or so, it’s not an obvious salvage job - but those questions still haunt me a bit. Leave Britney Alone! b/w Should I Have Left Britney Alone? Anyway, 10, of course.