05/22/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
With her many vocal tics, Spears is not exactly the greatest singer of our time, but she can be a pure pop, guilty pleasure. Much of the credit for that achievement goes to the unabashedly commercial hitmaking machine of Max Martin and his team at Sweden's Cheiron studios. Martin and crew, the guys behind *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, are pros at creating catchy, deceptively simple melodies with songs that sound like equal parts R&B, new wave and ABBA.
Layering synthesized and vocal tracks and lacing everything with arena-rock bombast, the cuts here are radio-ready pop—with bite. Particular cases in point are the insanely infectious title track and the more discofied, triumphant "Stronger." The album falters when Spears slows the pace: She beats lifeless a cover of the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." Not that anyone is likely to complain. With umpteen millions in sales and legions of midriff-baring fans, Spears isn't trying to compete with Mozart. The girl just wants to have fun. For the most part, she succeeds.
Bottom Line: Yep, she did it again