After a few albums chasing the pop charts (the same ones she set the blueprint for), for Madame X Madonna refreshingly reverts to experimental mode — it’s not like commercial radio will play her any more, she’s not 30.
Gone are the communal writing sessions in search of a hit, replaced by mainly one-on-one work with Mirwais – the French artist who steered some of her most subversive work, including this album’s most direct descendant, 2003’s American Life.
Madonna’s always thrown a musical genre orgy, but not on the bilingual global scale here.
Dark Ballet is haunting electro-gloom inspired by Joan of Arc, which soon transforms into Daft Punk doing Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
God Control is the disco banger casual fans have been waiting for — it just comes with lyrics about loose gun laws sung through gritted teeth before the Studio 54 flashbacks kick in — with repeated warnings for listeners to “wake up”. I Don’t Search I Find is a less political pop rush — the icy house vibes a nod to the Erotica/Justify My Love/Rescue Me era.
Killers Who Are Partying has divisive, clunky lyrics over laid-back, global grooves inspired by her new life in Portugal, while Faz Gostoso with guest Annita is a remake of a recent Portuguese hit by Brazilian singer Blaya.
Crazy is the only real straight-up pop song here (sung partially in Portuguese) with a retro feel that harks way back to True Blue, while Come Alive has Ray Of Light soundscape feels.
The dramatic Extreme Occident mixes from piano confession with world beats.
From day one Madonna has always done exactly as she likes. And she is less bothered than ever about what anyone thinks.
Risky. rebellious, weird yet accessible — on album No.14 she continues to reinvent pop. – Cameron Adams
Verdict: Gambler wins