In just “13 short months,” said Ann Powers in the Los Angeles Times, Britney Spears has “churned out” Circus. On her latest album, the pop starlet is “game for any vocal tricks her producers suggest,” and although the “cartoonish sound compensates for Spears' lack of range and lung power by allowing her to ham it up,” the “overall effect is hardening as one bump-and-grind fades into another.” And at this point in time, “lyrics about Britney as mannequin, sex object, paparazzi victim and leather-clad mistress have grown tedious.”

But “it's a narrative a lot of people still want to gawk at,” said Jim Farber in the New York Daily News, and “at least with Circus, the star has given her garish story line a juicier soundtrack” than last year’s Blackout. Circus is “a somewhat more convincing comeback for the '90s teen queen,” as it “revives the mix of chirpy Swedish pop and driving modern dance beats that first fired her to stardom.”

Actually, said Jim DeRogatis in the Chicago Sun-Times, Circus isn’t all that different than Blackout. But although “B.S., Inc. is working the same gambit again,” this time it’s putting in much more effort. “Some of the beats and hooks are harder to deny, especially on ‘Womanizer,’ the bonus track ‘Radar’ and the shamelessly Madonna-aping ‘Unusual You.’ And only the treacly ballads ‘My Baby’ and ‘Out From Under’ are downright abysmal disasters.”