Unfairly or not, recent memories of Janet Jackson as a musician have been distracted by her ... erm... exposure at the 2004 Superbowl. Wardrobe malfunction has led to career malfunction, with recent records, Damita Jo and 20 Y.O, failing to bring back the good times enjoyed in the heady days of Control and Rhythm Nation.
After a mixed spell with Virgin Records, Janet is back with Island records for this, her tenth album. Working closely, or should we say intimately, with fiance Jermaine Dupri, Janet turns, once again, to her a naughtier side to try and refocus the spotlight back on her.
Discipline can be boiled down easily. A sexually charged first half is matched against a slushy, soppy second. A futuristic feel, a text speak track listing and painfully embarrassing interludes help you come to the conclusion that, at 41, Janet's musical life is not ageing well. The schtick presented on Discipline is stale and fails to arouse in the way Janet may have hoped. Lyrics such as Rock With U's ''Let's converse/Talk with your body'' and Feedback's ''Strum me like a guitar/Blow out my amplifier '' won't seduce anybody, and the title track - an S&M; special - is, for lots of reasons, a huge turn-off.
Somewhere amongst the rough are a couple of potential diamonds with 2Nite the most successful trip back to Janet's former glories and Can't Be Good the pick of the dedications to Dupri. But expect little from Missy Elliott's cameo on No 1 though - it's hip hop by numbers and nothing more.
Usually never shy to speak her mind on any issue, it's astonishing that Jackson hasn't a single writing credit on the record. A fact that makes its hot blooded nature even more disturbing, and only add to the mounting problems on an album that continues to take the sheen off a once glittering past. Next time Janet, it might help to take a hand off the whip and put it on a pen.