Towards the end of this relentlessly 'up' record Madonna ponders, surely not for the first time, if she should carry on. And, if she does, what this continued legacy will add up to. It strikes a rare hesitant note in the 18th album of a 21-year recording career. Otherwise, all around us is further evidence that this is one icon that remains eternally ready for her close-up.
Happily, her legacy remains that of one of the few superstars able to retain some consciousness of her limitations. Why should it surprise us that Madonna records refuse to grow up? Refuse to address the bigger questions and present more than a two dimensional fun-loving blonde. When she does open up - addressing the song "Push" to her husband Guy Ritchie - the results are teeth-grindingly awful.
In contrast, when she's singing about nothing at all she sounds utterly profound. On "Get Together", she delivers not just one of her own finest dancefloor communications but the most blissfully egalitarian electro since Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With You". Producer, Stuart Price, makes audible the sensation of synapses pumping serotonin in an uncontrolled rush as Madonna adopts her finest dead-eyed, paper-thin vocal, circa "Into The Groove". It's her best track in years, and somehow, deliciously subversive in its stylish and empty pop hedonism.
Credit then to Price, of Les Rhythmes Digitales fame, who's rescued her from the humourless cyborg pop that Mirwais turned out on the last two albums. The sound that he has created for "Confessions On A Dancefloor" is simultaneously stylish, fun, hip and camp; all things a Madonna record should be. As a producer, he stands in exactly the right place, at the intersection of Hoxton and Romford, never sneering as he talks down to his public.
However, even with this elevated pop outlook, he struggles to maintain the momentum of this record as the initial sugar rush gives way to a slowly dawning sense that, amongst the paeans to NYC, wisdom on the pitfalls of ambition (again) and so forth, perhaps a little room should be made for something more. It's only a very slight wavering of conviction, but it's enough to see the record stumble a little in a quest for slightly weightier themes and eased tempos.
Nonetheless, this is a triumph but the success of the formula may prove to present something of a cul de sac for Madonna. After all, how long can she prowl the world's discos in search of fresh production blood? Perhaps though, there is one last album to add to that legacy. A thoroughly modern dance record that dispenses with the idea of the producer as skipper, instead, following the hip-hop template and replacing him with a producer for each track.
After all, there can be little doubt now that Madonna remains one of the most tantalising conduits for the producer's art. Start drawing up your dream team; there's a legacy to work on.
- Bron: Yahoo (UK)