When most people think of Madonna, the Queen of Pop, most recall the glorious ’80s when she made hit after hit of classic pop and dance music before the whole sex book and “Evita” mishaps.
In those days, Madonna was the definitive pop star and still is to this day. No other pop music artist has intrigued the way Madonna has and still put out good music thats relevant and just as artistic as rock.
After the dismal success of her last album, 2003’s “American Life,” many thought Madonna had lost her touch and would never reach her earlier glory again.
“American Life” ventured further from mainstream pop with its techno-folk music that wasnt received well by critics or fans. Other previous releases, such as “Ray of Light” and “Music,” were very good albums, but they experimented with weird techno music that is ahead of its time for mainstream pop music.
With “Confessions on a Dance Floor,” Madonna brings her senses back to ground-roots dance music that doesnt try new tricks but reinvents old ones into something that sounds all too familiar, but in the best way possible.
On the brilliant first single Hung Up, producer Stuart Price, who produced Madonnas highly successful Reinvention Tour last year, samples ABBA’s starting synth line on “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” for the whirring strings that fly through the track, along with brooding bass and one catchy ticking clock.
The best thing about “Confessions” is that, from beginning to end, it never slows down. Even on the downbeat songs like “Get Together” and “How High,” the pulsating bass and drums hold their own against buzzing synths and psychedelic melodies.
The standout track is Push, a drug for the ears, where Madonna sings about her mentors guidance: You push me/ To go the extra mile/ When its difficult to smile/ You push me/ A better version of myself/ Only you and no one else. Clunking tom-toms, sparkling chimes and bending strings surround the infectious melody that will be stuck in your head for days.
Pounding drums and synth-bass dance their way through your mind in Sorry, an almost industrial-sounding disco gem that could be the one ballad on Confessions, but with this beat, theres no need to slow it down. While on Future Lovers, futuristic synths and punching drums lead in to Madonnas obscure observations of love: Connect to the sky/ Future lovers ride/ Theyre in mission style/ Would you like to try?
However, on “Forbidden Love,” she’s certain about her love: Just one smile on your face/ Was all it took to change my fortune/ Just one word from your mouth/ Was all I needed to be certain.
And on Jump, which sounds more ’80s new wave than any actual Madonna hit from that decade, she hands out advice on life: Lifes gonna drop you down like a limb from a tree/ It sways and it swings and it bends until it makes you see.
Madonna even gives a shout-out to the Big Apple in I Love New York, a punk-disco mash-up that shows off Madges particular sense of humor: If you dont like my attitude/ Then you can f*** off/Just go to Texas/ Isn’t that where they golf? all over a thin rhythm line and pulsing beats.
Madonna shows off her religion on Isaac, a Middle Eastern club track complete with clanging foreign instruments and warbling chants. It’s the most explicit reference to Kabbalah on “Confessions” and has the religious influence that hasn’t been seen since the Buddhist-inspired Shanti/Ashtangi on “Ray of Light.”
“Confessions on a Dance Floor” is meant to be Madonnas return to her roots: in the clubs.
The 12 tracks on “Confessions” meld into one continuous DJ mix and never let up on the pulsating beats.
This is good in that there is never a dull moment throughout the CD, but its also the one weakness “Confessions” has: It’s hard to distinguish one track from another when they seem to all be remixes of the same song, albeit the best remixes you’ve heard from dance music in a while.
Madonna succeeds in making us get out of our seats and dance, with any and every sound imaginable squeezed into the dizzying array of techno, house, disco, dance and pure pop perfection that combines to form the tracks on “Confessions.” Madonnas songwriting skills, which have been largely overlooked throughout her career, help make “Confessions” come alive and achieve its primary goal: to make us dance and experience emotions through the sounds and words of the great pop star of our time.
Madonna seems to have been holding her dance drive inside for a while, and now the times right to let it free.
To quote the Material Mom’s early club hit “Burnin Up”: Don’t put me off, cause I’m on fire/ And I can’t quench my desire.
As long as you continue putting out albums like “Confessions,” Mrs. Ritchie, well let you keep burning.