For a down-home Baptist girl, Jessica Simpson leaves her blinds awfully high. Each of her album titles purports to be a mainline to the real Jess. Adolescent and bubbly-little-belle shit on Sweet Kisses, fallen, “sensual” “woman” on In This Skin, and now she gives in. She’s a doll.

But a postmodern doll, half human, half blog entries and late night jokes. Jessica Simpson’s not real. She needs us to imagine her as a completely static and googly-eyed Jess, simultaneously making out with John Mayer at an awards show, hawking Dominos and dolling out some more tempo-murdering melissimas covered in bubbly little keyboards. Her biggest group of genuine fans literally plays with plastic dolls. She doesn’t exist.

That’s never stopped anyone from putting out a successful pop album. Kurt Cobain wrote for Courtney, Diddy had Common and Jadakiss ghostwrite, oh, pretty much everything he ever said, and of course, Milli Vanilli didn’t say anything at all. Jess is in good company, but she can’t stand out when she keeps putting out albums that disingrate on public impact.

A Public Affair, the newest document of America’s dumbest internal monologue, doesn’t even have the decency to spawn a carbonated hit single before the inevitable slide into a second half that barely outranks amateur dental surgery. That “single,” “A Public Affair,” crinkles together some astral Madonna synths, a childish xylophone and more of Jessica reminding us, “Tonight, carte blanche, first class for the evening!”

There are no original artistic ideas on the album. Within a three-song stretch she tries to steal from The Cars, Dead or Alive and Janet Jackson. Back to back to back. She’s either having like, the blandest party in the universe – “Push Your Tush” and its fried, monochrome drum patterns – or, like, totally over Nick – her attempt at sneering, ringing separation (“Fired Up”) sounds as awkwardly non-committal as her choice to scream “yeehaw!” multiple times on Affair.

Reviewing Simpson based on her music seems unfair; she’s clearly drifting away from music as art and toward music as good press. She may be actively switching places with Paris. Now Ms. Hilton is the singer and Simpson seems destined for the big screen. Only Simpson’s just-got-my-ears-pierced fan bloc and the totally naive actually think she’s in the music game for much longer. She trawls decades of pop and only comes up with creaky, barely-there horn section and heavy breathing where there is, traditionally, you know, singing. Criticizing Affair is like trying to help someone about to quit a job they hate – all you can do is just try and speed the process along. Do your part and avoid this album like the clap.

1 out of 5 stars

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