No surprise here: another #1 album from a Madonna who’s never let anything – not even motherhood or her fascination with Jewish mysticism – shake her bionic grip on the pulse of pop culture. This time her partner in crime is Stuart Price of Les Rhythmes Digitales, a producer who’s well acquainted with the ’80s nostalgia that’s fueling everything from the neo new wave of Franz Ferdinand and the Killers to a larger movement back to the dance floor.
This is familiar territory for the material girl, though it’s not as vacuous as titles like “Hung Up,” “Get Together,” “Jump,” and “How High” might suggest. “I’m going to tell you about love… would you like to try,” she whispers over a minimalist electro groove on “Future Lovers” before a deep bass masses beneath her, lifting her voice higher and higher, until it disappears again as a whisper.
Like much of Confessions, it’s an invitation to lose oneself on the dance floor that recognizes the spirituality of giving oneself over to the beat of the DJ; it’s even like a continuous-mix disc in that each song segues into the next. Anyone offended by the way the pillowy synths fade directly into the sampled incantations of a cantor on the one explicitly Kabbalah-inspired track here (“Isaac“) hasn’t noticed how “world music” has been making its way into contemporary dance music.
Besides, it’s not half as silly as 47-year-old Madonna speak-singing zingers like “if you don’t like my attitude, then you can eff off” and “New York is not for little pussies who scream” on “I Love New York,” the only track that tries too hard on an album that otherwise makes a point of being effortlessly brilliant.
Review by Matt Ashare, The Providence Phoenix