Madonna is back with Madame X her fourteenth studio album. The album was co-produced by Madonna along with a slew of musicians including Mirwais, Mike Dean, and Jason Evigan.
Madame X’s sound was influenced by her 2017 relocation to Portugal as well as the numerous recording locations, including Lisbon, London, New York and Los Angeles. The album is a cultural melange of musical genres -disco, Latin pop, African drums, trip-hop and countless others.
For myself, this studio album is a challenging listen, but for all the wrong reasons. While I applaud Madonna for still having musical ambition in creating an adventurous listening experience, the track listing is chaotic and lacks cohesiveness.
With so many influences and producers, Madame X lacks focus and falls under its own weight. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of sheer brilliance here. For instance, Dark Ballet, arguably the most bizarre song of Madonna’s entire career; is a gloomy track that descends into a menacing robotic rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Reed Flutes" section from The Nutcracker. Then, there's I Rise, which proves that Madonna is one of the greatest balladeers in pop music history. Crave is just a hook filled, dreamy pop song that stays in your head long after the song ends.
It’s great to see an artist, who has been in the music business this long, still being adventurous and not afraid to take chances.
There is a a masterpiece somewhere in Madame X, but only if Madonna traded in some of her musical ambition for cohesiveness, Madame X could have been a later day career masterpiece. Still, kudos to Madonna for not releasing a paint by numbers pop album.