Not the most listenable effort, but an intelligent album that lives up to expectations. Jack Elliot reviews
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
It has been 3 years since the Queen of Pop’s last contribution to music. 2012’s MDNA exposed a solid musical direction that suggests Madonna’s character and target audience have changed far less than pop culture itself.
Despite a turbulent release due to demo leaks, ‘Rebel Heart’ was finally released in full on the 6th March and finally answered the questions that many had about the album.
Opening with ‘Living For Love’, the album starts exactly where MDNA left off. The album’s flagship track boasts a steady dance tempo and electronic production that will be appreciated by fans. The inclusion of heavily compressed piano chords and gospel singers here will transport you to an EDM church rave and you’ll probably love it.
Five tracks following ‘Living For Love’ were released a few months ahead of the album and offered a deep look into some of the musical ideas of the album. ‘Devil Pray’ will take you to a sandy ditch in a deserted ghost town and will introduce you to the darker lyrical side of Rebel Heart. Right after, songs like ‘Unapologetic Bitch’ begin building up the pace, lightening up the mood, and provide the essential gimickey tracks for her hardcore fans.
Naturally, Madonna’s called in a few favours from her famous friends and managed to get herself some rather exclusive collaborations under her belt. Namely ‘Bitch I’m Madonna’ featuring Nicki Minaj. Despite being presented as another gimmick track, a solid dose of rap adds diversity to the album and spices things up just as they may have seemed to be getting boring.
Traditional filler tracks are rare with Rebel Heart as each song has a confident theme and concept underlying the music and presents the LP as being extremely intelligently thought out. ‘Joan Of Arc’ is an example of a more upbeat track from the album with the lyrical content to back up its unarguably pretentious name and is surprisingly listenable. ‘HeartBreakCity’’s choral backing vocals and massive drums will take you back to church and it isn’t an unlistenable song, but does break up the positive build that you thought the album would have been structured around.
The standard edition of Rebel Heart ends with ‘Wash All Over Me’, a lyrically powerful, yet vulnerable ending to the album that could be interpreted as a track celebrating triumph or defeat. It is up to you to interpret it as you wish. Rebel Heart sounds like what MDNA was presented to be when it toured with swinging incense pots and priest. Although it’s not the most listenable Madonna album on the planet, it is intelligent and because of this it has lived up to many’s expectations. However now Rebel Heart is released, it raises the question of just where Madonna will take her music next?