Released: 17th November 2003.
Desperate to become as credible as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears has enlisted the help of some top producers for her fourth LP. Strumming a few personal chords, "In The Zone" promises a much more mature and grown-up sound. But does it mean Britney's gone boring?
Even Madonna couldn't make "Me Against The Music" a strong single, yet The Ying Yang Twins lend a helping hand on the infectious "I Got That (Boom Boom)" with quite an effect.
"Showdown" marks the beginning of the dirty part of the album. Sexual lyrics, complemented by sultry Arabic / Asian-influenced backing music, make a welcome change from the happy-go-lucky pop Spears is known for.
Highlights include the somewhat Kylie-sounding "Breathe On Me" and the R Kelly-produced "Outrageous". Britney pours her heart out in the rather melodic "Everytime", a ballad about how she never meant to hurt her lover (Justin?)
Unfortunately things get patchy here and there. You can be forgiven for thinking that "Shadow" is in fact a lost T'Pau B-side, while the sparkless "Early Mornin'" goes nowhere.
"In The Zone" could be a lot worse, seeing as it's the obligatory "mature" album, but it doesn't live up to the hype.