A few lines from a couple songs and some suggestive presentation guarantees that a significant amount of the reaction to Discipline, Janet's tenth studio album, will feast upon the singer's lack of judiciousness when it comes to expressing her sexuality. Leave the teasing and explicitness to the teens and younger twenty-somethings -- not the grown women -- right? Janet should get back to making sunny, uncomplicated songs like "Escapade" and pretend that the occasional-to-frequent salaciousness extending back to Control never existed. She should do that and, while she is at it, act her age. (When the three years younger R. Kelly releases his next album, no protests of a similar nature will be heard; ditto whenever the Rolling Stones perform "Brown Sugar.") While Discipline is dressed up like a racy affair with track-to-track titillation, it has only a couple moments where Janet takes the S&M imagery further, and more deeply personal, than she did on The Velvet Rope; the majority of its subject matter relates to the more common elements of relationships. The likes of "Never Letchu Go" (a sweet, glistening ballad), "Luv" (carrying a brisk, feel-good clap-and-bounce), "Rollercoaster" (suitably jittery and giddy), and "Can't B Good" (practically a descendent of her brother Michael's "Can't Help It," with that gentle and affecting self-examination that only a Jackson can do so well) are as innocent, universal, and inviting as anything else in Janet's past. There are two irresistible, grade-A dancefloor tracks as well: the swift, swooning "Rock with U" (that is the correct title) and the more aggressive (as in "let's throw down") "2Nite." The absence of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is not felt, not with Ne-Yo, the-Dream, Tricky Stewart, and Stargate stepping up to contribute with established Janet collaborators Johnta Austin, Rodney Jerkins, and of course Jermaine Dupri (who brought Janet with him to Island from Virgin). Janet probably won't hit that late-'80s peak again, but that is no excuse to write her off.
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman
feat: Ernie Isley