Madonna’s 14th studio album fuses political intent with world pop disco.
Madonna has always worked well one-to-one, and after her hip trap-inspired singles with Quavo and Swae Lee, and the reggaeton dalliance with Maluma, she has saved the best for last. The real treat on this album is Madonna’s vivid, dramatic work with Mirwais. They send the disco ball spinning on French house tracks like God Control and the very fine I Don’t Search I Find, while Dark Ballet is rococo brilliance, sounding like a deranged Nutcracker Suite. Where 2015’s Rebel Heart seemed like a record made by committee, this album reflects Madonna’s life in Lisbon – laid-back, curious, and intensely creative – absorbing influences ranging from percussive Moroccan gnawa to melancholy Portuguese morna. The pace plods on some mid-tempo tracks, but overall this is a personal, politically-charged mix of dark thoughts and good vibes. Lucy O’Brien
4 out of 5 stars