TOUR DE FORCE: Madonna's new album blends the tough and tender.
Brimming with pumping electro-pop confections, Madonna’s newly arrived 12th studio album, MDNA, evokes an inescapable club ambience, even as it compellingly reminds us why the music legend still reigns as the enduring Queen of Pop. In short, the album is a dancefloor slave/party animal’s dream record fuelled by a channel-surfing of moods and emotions running the gamut from rage and longing to danger and desire. At a tidy 50 minutes, the 12-track CD deserves repeated listens. It’s so tantalizingly good that there’s hardly a dull moment.
Like the expert manipulator she’s always been, Madonna lures you into the groove and you can’t help but obey and play along – even when the lyrics occasionally dip into violent connotations, sly innuendoes and sexual deviance. To wit, provocative song titles like “Gang Bang,” “I’m A Sinner” and flirty album opener “Girl Gone Wild” immediately arrest your attention. But upon giving them a couple spins, you are positively drawn into this perennial Material Girl’s uber-sexy world, where a kind of tongue-in-cheek brilliance is offset by the usual risqué sensibilities and slick production work from the likes of collaborators William Orbit and Benny Benassi.
Madonna’s signature dalliance between tough and tender, fun and fierce, plays out on cuts like snappy lead single “Give Me All Your Luvin” (featuring cheerleaders M.I.A and Nicki Minaj) and the brazen “I Don’t Give A …,” where Minaj reprises her one-of-a-kind rude-gal sass. But the real winners here are the slow-burning instant classics “Masterpiece” and “Free Fallin,” two elegant slices of nostalgia and glamour that transport you back to Madge’s golden Ray of Light era.
Given her penchant for crafting timeless records that leave a lasting dent in the cultural psyche (“Like A Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach”…), it’s no surprise really that the pop superstar has managed to strike gold again with MDNA, which is certainly a worthy entry into the esteemed Madonna canon. What’s more, you simply have to take your hat off to a woman who continues defy the rules and expectations by proving her staying power and relevance in a youth-obsessed industry now dominated by a tireless string of Gagas and Rihannas. Tyrone’s Verdict: A