By Tom Lanham
January 15, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST

You knew it was coming — the sassy girl backlash to that whole ‘N Sync/Backstreet Boys testosterone-lite thing. Hanging ten on the sugary wave is 17-year-old ex-Disney princess Britney Spears, who sounds so soulful and Whitney-assured on her self-titled debut, it’s downright scary. Was a deal cut with Satan? Nope — just Backstreet Boys’ writing/producing Svengali Max Martin. Scan for his puppet strings, though, and you’ll miss all the squeaky-clean Tiger Beat fun. B+