Review by Matthew Todd, Attitude Magazine.
Teaming up with producers Martin Solveig, Benny Benassi, The Demolition Crew and old hand William Orbit, MDNA is a dose of what she does best. While that may seem like just dance music, there is more to Madonna’s oeuvre than that.
The strangely titled Gang Bang sees her singing in a weird theatrical drawl about taking revenge on a lover who ruined her life. ‘Shot you dead, shot my lover in the head…I’m going straight to hell…I’ve got a lot of friends there’, she deadpans before yelling, ‘Drive bitch, die bitch!’. It’s kind of stupid, kind of amazing, kind of funny and kind of fucked up but gives the album one vital ingredient to Madonna¹s success that all contenders, apart from Lady Gaga, have never clued up on: drama.
The Solveig-produced I Don¹t Give A..., is one of the album¹s tour-de-force moments. Beginning by recounting a typical day, it becomes intensely honest, and is, as is her way, a telling-off of her critics. Love her or loathe her, Madonna has made her name by raising a middle finger to, well, just about everyone. ‘Wake up, this is your life, children on your own, gotta plan on the phone, meet the press, buy a dress, do all this to impress…do ten things at once and if you don¹t like it I don¹t give a….’ It’s here that she makes specific reference to her ex-husband. ‘I tried to be the perfect wife…I diminished myself…it swallowed me…if I was a failure then I don’t give a…’. The track builds to a genius, choral, almost Tim Burton-esque conclusion.
One of the later highlights is Superstar, surely the sweetest song Madonna has released since Cherish. It twirls along, an open-top summer anthem, serenading a new lover with a hypnotic chorus. It¹s simple and pretty and a perfect song to sing on her summer concerts and should definitely be a single.
Overall, this might not have the serious pop intensity of Confessions, it’s not as drastically new or experimental as music critics might like, but it’s fun, fucked up, dancey and full of drama. It’s what her fans have been waiting for: a wallop enough of an album to put her back up there, at checkmate against Lady Gaga, who, despite her brilliance, doesn’t quite give you songs that are as easy to disco dance to as some of these are. Is Madonna still ‘the Queen’ as Nicki Minaj gabs at one point? On the strength of MDNA, it’s hard to argue against.
[Note to Monsters: Lady Gaga is frikkin’ amazing, too. Don¹t kill us.]
4 STARS ****
MDNA is released on March 26 on Interscope