The other night at a party, a friend laughed at me for having Janet Jackson’s ‘Together Again’ on my playlist. I don’t know when it became uncool for a teenage girl to enjoy a good 90s jam, but braids and crop tops aside, Janet’s eleventh album holds two fingers up to the haters because it establishes her as a contemporary artist who isn’t going anywhere yet. Of course, it’s risky naming a comeback album Unbreakable but this title is lived up to by the very fact that an artist almost 50 years of age who peaked in the 90s, is still releasing music.
The opening title track is an instant highlight as it functions similarly to the classic ‘Together Again’ with its mystical harp-sound intro which breaks into a pumping Pop triumph. With the feel-good vibe set for the remainder of the record and her ‘ever-sacred, everlasting’ legacy confirmed, Janet closes the song with a welcoming, ‘hello’ to the listener, and reflects that ‘she has lots to talk about’. Perhaps the album does explore serious themes then in contrast to what ‘BUMPITUP! ft. Missy Elliott’ suggests with its liberating lyric, “I’m gonna dance all night and I don’t care”.
This track is more 21st century, but cheesy moments make the album feel dated at times, notably in ‘Dammn Baby’ when a male voice says “now, the breakdown” before a drop in tempo. This is balanced out however by mature, moody, ‘The Great Forever’ and stripped-down ballad ‘After You Fall’. Unbreakable sits smugly between sophistication and sass and is most successful where it emulates 90s RnB. With regards to Janet’s comeback, there’s no need for music journalists to “blow it up and call it the news” – it blows most 2015 releases out of the water itself.