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March 23, 2012 10:35 pm
Like the synthetic drug to which its title alludes, Madonna’s new album MDNA has been carefully constructed. This adds to the sense of disappointment. It opens in unrestrained dance-pop mode, positioning the queen of pop, 53, in competition with younger princess-rivals such as Rihanna. At the halfway point the dismissively titled “Some Girls” reunites her with Ray of Light producer William Orbit, in a pointed reminder of the singer’s seniority (Ray of Light, released in 1998, was the first album she made as a mother; it sold 20m copies). The point is emphasised two tracks later when rapper Nicki Minaj pops up to announce: “There’s only one queen and that’s Madonna.” Regal status duly restated, her Madgesty ends back in Ray of Light’s grown-up mode with four Orbit-produced songs, culminating with the ambient swooshes of “Falling Free”, the soothing bath at the end of a busy day of court intrigues. The sequencing is artful – but oh dear, the songs and lyrics are lacklustre. “Girl Gone Wild” is Rihanna-by-numbers while “Gang Bang” borrows its violent imagery and dubstep breakdown from Britney Spears. The Orbit-produced numbers are dull, the work of a producer past his prime. With the exception of the techno-pop adrenaline rush of “I’m Addicted”, MDNA doesn’t have the desired effect.
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