I grew up on Madonna, so this might explain my consistent interest in her work (and I have the stack of CDs to prove it!). However, I must admit my Madmiration is a bit on-off: I was hooked in by ‘Like A Virgin’, titilated by ‘Like A Prayer’, breathtaken by ‘I’m Breathless’, and fascinated by ‘Ray Of Light’ – but I wavered in and out in between, as La Madonne struck a pose, and another, and yet another.
On ‘Confessions’, she stripped away her recent political image for a more superficially sweet number – one that would be best enjoyed in a club.
And it works. It works wonders, in fact.
I was a bit sceptical from the onset, what with the album’s title and artwork – which conjured up images of another lame dance effort that should be forgotten and go the way of Donna Summers. However, I was fortunate enough to get it for really cheap and decided to give it a spin.
The strength of the album lies on its musical layers and vocal hooks; while it is ‘only’ a dance album, it doesn’t rest its laurels on a few catchy beats and one hit song, like all too many others do. Instead, it refuses to repeat itself and consistently throws in new licks; there are so many, in fact, that it’s pointless to even try to pinpoint a few highlights.
Not only that, but ‘Confessions’ tries hard to make itself out to be an all-Madonna dance party – and succeeds ably. It blends one songs into the next, non-stop, for close to 60 minutes of ‘white-man’s overbite’ bliss; there are no saccharine ballads to interrupt the flow – and, in this case, it’s a major plus.
The album does have its weak points, however.
While Madge will never be in the same league as Bob Dylan as a lyricist, it is quite amazing to realize that, after well over 20 years in the business, she hasn’t honed her craft any better than this. To put it mildly, her most recent ‘efforts’ could have warranted the title ‘Confessions From A Grade School Diva’.
I try to excuse it by imagining that, perhaps, she wanted her young children to relate to the material to a certain extent – but I cringe every single time that I hear her rhyme ‘New York’ with ‘Dork’, ‘F-off’ with ‘Golf’, and roll my eyes at the mindnumbing pairings of ‘Mad’ with ‘Sad’ and ‘Glad’.
Mind you, if you’re looking to dance, lyrics are the least of your concerns anyway.
Now, if one wanted to be particularly picky, one could stop for a moment to point out that some of the subject matter seems reminiscent of her past efforts. But I won’t do that. I will only indicate that “Hung Up”, the first single, unfortunately hangs part of its success on an old ABBA hook – a recent tradition in pop music that is becoming rather disturbing.
Although it must certainly be hard to come up with original material, what with the overwhelming amount of music that is being pumped out of everyone’s computers, the fact that popular artists are so frequently getting by on the back of other musicians is disturbing at best – are we all so complacent that we can’t be challenged anymore? Must we really rehash the past time and time again?
All things considered, the album overcomes its weak spots by being unrelentingly infectious – as any great dance album should be. ‘Confessions’ keeps its listeners on a uninterrupted high from start to finish and is undoutedly one of Madonna’s best albums of her career.
It would be all too easy to be cynical and say that this is an album that money can buy, but Britney could have afforded the same ingredients and still come out with an unpalatable mixture.
‘Confessions On A Dance Floor’ is my favourite album this year so far – and could conceivably make my Top 13. A surprise for me, as I’m sure it is for you.
I give it an 8.5 out of 10.