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09
Mar

Madonna - MDNA reviewed

mdnaDid anyone love ‘Gimme All Your Luvin’? Even hardcore Madonna fans, when pressed, have had to concede that the lead single from her 12th studio album, MDNA, is a song than one can like rather than love. To her detractors, it’s been reason enough to unleash possibly the most bewildering amount of negative comment ahead of any Madonna launch. Devotees have clung to co-producer William Orbit’s recent comment that ‘Gimme…’ is not in fact representative of its parent album of the whole. On first listen, it would appear he’s right...


MDNA
finds Madonna revisiting Confessions On A Dancefloor territory, and the end result owes plenty to the co-producers that she has recruited to affix some monster beats to her trademark pop sensibility. Over the first two-thirds of MDNA, this is Italy’s Marco ‘Benny’ Benassi and France’s Martin Solveig, while the UK’s own Orbit takes charge of the final third. It opens with Madonna intoning a request to the Almighty himself, saying, ‘Sorry for having offended thee…”, before launching into second single ‘Girl Gone Wild’ – a distinct grower. Things take a hardcore twist with the thumping bass beats of ‘Gang Bang’ – a slab of heavy electro that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at The Cock or Nag Nag Nag in the mid-00s. The bass-heavy electro continues with ‘I’m Addicted’ – which has Benassi written all over it. ‘Turn Up The Radio’ is the album’s most unashamedly pop offering, channeling the spirit of Donna Summer. It would have made a much better lead single.
You want camp? Madonna screaming ‘Die bitch!’ at the end of ‘Gang Bang’ is nothing compared to ‘There’s only one queen – Madonna!’ at the end of ‘I Don’t Give A’ – another electro club track that finds Madge in typically bullish mood. She’s clearly not giving up her crown without a fight.
The string-laden William Orbit section of MDNA is more melodic, but is a surprisingly more mixed fare. Recent Golden Globe-winning track ‘Masterpiece’ jars, but on the upside, this last third offers up another of the album’s highlights. ‘I’m A Sinner’ finds Ms Ciccone refusing to kow-tow to Catholic guilt any longer, turning ‘I’m a sinner, I like it that way’ into a repetitive, irresistible mantra of self-liberation. Lyrics such as ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, get down on your knees and pray… St Sebastian don’t you cry, let those poison arrows fly’ are unlikely to prompt any approval from the Vatican!
Some will have hoped that the return of William Orbit will herald another Ray Of Light. That would be hoping too much, but MDNA reveals itself to be a solid, dancefloor-oriented piece of work. Possibly not quite as consistent as Music or Confessions, but a cut above Hard Candy and American Life.
David Hudson

Released: 26 March
Rating: ****
 

 

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