Album: Britney Jean
Britney Spears complicates an awkward situation in the gawky “Perfume.”
Wretched synths open the setting a depleted tone.His girlfriend offers to clean up the dishes and starts to get up. She shakes her head no, telling her she’s a guest. As she’s scraping the uneaten food into a bag, she sees her ex-boyfriend/friend gaze at her. His girlfriend is chatting away to him, oblivious to him sneaking glances. While she’s puts the plates in the dishwasher, she begins to analyze his body language. However, as she closes the dishwasher, she shrugs it off. It was obviously nothing. He’s not available now anyhow and not the cheating type. She’s struggling to be just his friend, considering her lingering feelings.. She wants to be ok with it and be the ex he can still hang out with. But she didn’t expect the confusion. They are supposed to be over it already and moved forward with their lives. Or, it at least it’s what she agreed to in their last serious talk as a couple. (“Do I imagine it, or do I see your stare/Is there still longing there?/Oh I hate myself, and I feel crazy/Such a classic tale/Current girl friend, ex girlfriend, I'm trying to be cool/Am I being paranoid, am I seeing things?/Am I just insecure?”)
In the pre-chorus, she thinks his distracting himself, trying to cover up his feelings for her. Their relationship hasn’t changed all that much since they broke up. They still talk everyday and make plans to go out. It’s as though he’s having an emotional affair with her. (“I want to believe/It's just you and me/Sometimes it feels like there's three/Of us in here baby.”)
In the chorus, she keeps her phone by her. It’s 8 pm. He usually calls to see how her day went. She dabs on his favorite perfume of hers and hopes he’s thinking of her. When she answers, she’s self-conscious of her voice. She gets breathy around him and tries to maintain an even pitch. She wonders if he talked to his current girlfriend earlier or if she’s the last person he wants to speak to before going to bed. Nonetheless, she wants his girlfriend to know her place and realize there’s still going on between them. She’s competition, not a friend. (“So I, wait for you to call/And I try to act natural/Have you been thinking 'bout her or about me/And while I wait I put on my perfume, yeah I want it all over you/I gotta mark my territory/I'll never tell, tell on myself but I hope she smells my perfume/I'll never tell, tell on myself but I hope she smells your perfume/I hide it well, hope you can't tell but I hope she smells my perfume/I hide it well, hope you can't tell but I hope she smells my perfume.”)
She returns back the table and plasters on a smile, laughing at one his girlfriend’s jokes. She would like for him to leave his girlfriend and tell her that he’s still in love with her. They have been involved off and on since they were teens. In their teens, they avoided the issue of dating. However, in their 20s, they began their relationship and it got too serious. Neither were ready to settle down. Now, in their 30s, it has become all or nothing. If he decides he still likes her or remain with his girlfriend, it’s going to get messy between them. (“I wanna fill the room when she's in it with you/Please don't forget me/Do I imagine it, or catch these moments/I know you got history/But I'm your girlfriend, now I'm your girlfriend trying to be cool/I hope I'm paranoid, that I'm just seeing things/That I'm just insecure.”)
The pre-chorus and chorus are sung again to close the single.
Spears’ throaty vocals waver, uncomfortable from having to pretend to be his friend. She wants the charade of their friendship to be over and get back together with him. It’s the way it should be. The recreation of her late 90s sound stifles her, emphasizing more that those days are long gone and that Britney no longer exists.
The musty “Perfume” has been on the shelf for too long and waiting to be red tagged for the clearance rack.