The landscape has been looking bleak in recent years for Janet Jackson fans. Both 20 Y.O. and Damita Jo, her last 2 albums, were among the worst efforts of her career. That makes her return on Discipline even more rewarding. Relaxed and working with topnotch producers and songwriters, this is Janet's most sonically rewarding album since 1993's Janet.
Difficult to Discern the Absence of Jam and Lewis
Every Janet Jackson album since Control in 1986 has been produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis...until now. However, for the casual listener, it is difficult to discern their absence on Discipline. In fact, the effect of production and songwriting contributions by the likes of Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Ne-Yo, and Stargate is to cause the album to sound like Jam, Lewis, and Jackson revitalized. Contemporary flourishes appear on occasion and individual tracks like the Missy Elliott collaboration on "The 1," and Stargate's updated disco on "2Nite" point in other directions, but the core remains Jackson's whispery vocals and straightforward, easy melodies that pull a listener in again and again.
Risque Content Over-Emphasized
The cover of Discipline is enough to draw in fans looking for a voyeuristic audio thrill ride. However, if that is the primary goal in hearing the album, you will most likely be disappointed. Yes, the title song does strongly reference s&m play, but most of the songs here are more traditional dissertations on love and relationships. Jackson has been exploring her sexuality on record since Janet, but she again deftly prevents salacious content from overwhelming the other rewards here.
Top Tracks on Discipline
- Rock With U
- The 1
Finally - The Maturity Is in the Music
The tone here is of Janet Jackson finally relaxing into her maturity as an artist. As she heads toward her 42nd year, Janet proves she is as relevant to contemporary r&b and pop as she has always been. Tracks like the single "Feedback" and the slyly sophisticated "Rock With U" are instant classics in Jackson's repertoire. Sometimes odd and often ill-conceived interludes make an attempt to unite the songs into a thematic whole. However, that is not necessary when individual tracks hold up as well as these. Discipline proves Janet knows how to head into a studio with sympathetic producers and deliver a gem.