This album came out at a troubled time for its superstar singer. The singer had hit international fame with a provocative, ambiguously sexual image, and had then gone on to work with some of the hottest names in black music – though many critics derided the results as plastic and fake. But they were dogged by rumours of drug addiction and bisexual decadence – a lifestyle apparently spiralling out of control, despite the responsibility of a young family. Their recent public appearances ranged from worrying to bizarre – the singer looked ill and distanced, and one performance in particular had raised the press to fury leading to mutterings of “career suicide”. To make matters worse, this new record relies on slick, hyper-modern pop making heavy use of electronics and treated vocals – in fact on several tracks the singer seems hardly to be present, off at the margins of the music. Its fashionable production team, on the other hand, has a huge impact on the album’s sound and must surely take a great deal of the credit for the success of the record.

I am – of course – talking about Low by David Bowie. But Britney Spears’ Blackout is out next week and that’s a really good record too!