Everybody needs a slogan – even Madonna. And the ‘sell’ for her brand new album is ”Confessions on a Dance Floor’ meets ‘Ray of Light”. Whatever the sound, it ain’t that. William Orbit, who produced the latter record is back on board, but the resemblance begins and ends with the final four (out of 12) cuts, which tap Bollywood pop, Prince’s ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘La Isla Bonita’ and erm, the Irish folk tradition respectively.
The rest of the record is a monstrously throbbing and insistent, jack-booted stomp through the electro/fidget- house heartlands, with notes of deranged rave, dubstep and (on lead track, ‘Give Me All your Luvin’) rapid-fire dancehall raps from Nicki Minaj and MIA, Madge’s guests at her recent Superbowl appearance. Co-producers Martin Solveig and Benny Benassi have given Madge the 20-ton rhythm, batter-listeners-into-submission treatment, but there’s a (welcome) shift in mood with ‘Superstar’, which – despite the rhyming dictionary lyrics (superstar/car/guitar) – is sure to set tongues wagging as to the subject’s identity.
The brutal ‘Gang Bang’ is a highlight – all Teutonic beats, juddering bass and featuring police sirens and the sound of burning rubber – with Madge barking out a dark litany: ‘bang, bang, shot you dead, shot my lover in the head’ and ‘I said drive, bitch.’ Not entirely suited to International Women’s Day! As for its place in Madge’s personal pop pantheon, ‘MDNA’ is more ‘Hard Candy’ part II’ than ‘Confessions…’. Similarly, it’s a case of suck it and see. Sharon O’Connell
Watch ‘Give Me All your Luvin’ below: