I get so distracted by the first impressions that it takes me some time to get a real feel for the music.
And it’s a good thing that I’ve done that because this is the most intimate music Madonna has made in recent memory and when Madonna makes intimate music it’s usually very rewarding.
Her last three albums (Hard Candy, MDNA, Rebel Heart) each had their winning moments- MDNA in particular had a handful of divorce songs that were vulnerable and as personal as Madonna gets- but for whatever reason none of them felt like authentic Madonna albums.
Madonna albums have always worked better when they’ve come out of hibernation periods with a tight production team and an overriding theme that gets realised organically.
I think it’s fair to say she hasn’t done this since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.
But as you get to know MadameX you also realise it’s more adventurous than anything she’s done before.
This is an evolution of Erotica/Music/American Life Madonna even if fans would prefer another iteration of Ray of Light/Confessions on a Dancefloor Madonna.
In any case any remaining fans should rejoice: MadameX marks the welcome return of the other Madonna: Album Artist.
*I’m sure the juxtaposition of modern and traditional is important thematically but really the overuse of vocoder across the first half of the album is appalling at times.
*Given how elsewhere on the album Madonna seems to make a point of pushing herself across different vocal approaches it feels disappointing to hear her vocals treated so artificially.
*I’m not sure why people would expect someone with almost 40yrs experience in the industry to just put out an album of fluffy pop. She’s lived and had never been short of an opinion or the need to ruffle a few feathers.
*As a fellow expat living in southern Europe I can tell you that culture seaps into you. I don’t find it too hard to make the leap in seeing why Madonna has made the choice of recording the sounds she’s been immersed in for the last two years (and her time there is also influencing her word choices: e.g. “occidental” is commonly used in Romance languages in this part of Europe)
*After Eurovision, the ongoing social media mess and all that vocoder can I just say I felt so relieved to listen to this album and feel moved and thankful. This is a new frontier in how mainstream pop can be engaging and owes something at least to an album like Nelly Furtado’s Folklore or MIA’s Mala as early blueprints.
*love,love,love: God Control, Crave, I Don’t Search, Looking For Mercy and Come Alive