Britney Spears’s last hit was an ostensible collaboration with will.i.am where her most audible contribution was two words (one of which was just her name) that simply referenced something she’d already done. “Scream & Shout” turns out to have been a fitting setup for “Britney Jean,” where Spears barely registers on the product with her name on it (twice). With 20 or so producers elbowing each other for focus on 10 tracks (two songs have six listed producers each), it’s no wonder there’s barely room for the singer in the swirl of swerving Ibiza keyboards (“It Should Be Easy”), dubstep bumpers (“Til It’s Gone”) and Selena Gomez castoffs (“Alien”). Her choruses to “Body Ache” and “Work Bitch,” meanwhile, sound like holding-pattern preludes to the club riffs that follow, rather than vice versa, leaving the impression that she’s merely guesting on her own material. And when Spears brings the tempo down on “Perfume,” she sounds like Gwen Stefani singing Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors.” Nowhere does “Britney Jean” sound like Britney Spears. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Alien”Marc Hirsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.