On Madonna's previous two albums, the title tracks were quite well put together, while the rest mostly faded into filler mediocrity. On Confessions, the exact opposite is true.
The initial fear that takes hold when the first strains of "Hung Up" warble through your stereo is that Madge has finally bowed to the inevitable and become Kylie. But aside from that Abba-sampled beast of an opener, producer Stuart Price's involvement in the production as a whole is inspired and pervasively evident.
By simultaneously launching a dancefloor attack and maintaining a courteous regard for the pop structures of Madonna's 80s roots, Price has created a modern dance pop album that actually works for a forty-something artist. Think Pet Shop Boys' "DJ Culture" meets Madge's own "Ray of Light".
It's all somewhat high-octane, but the sound design cleverly employs subtle elements of early electro-trance and house. The production favours musical motives rather than lyrical ones - meaning, you'll likely remember the stabbing vocal melodies before the words
That said, the few lyrical highpoints there are worth remembering -"I don't like cities but I like New York / Other places make me feel like a dork" seems to hint at a bit of flippancy, a trait seemingly furthered by Esther's buoyant pink leotard and heels theme. (One shudders to imagine that this might have been postured seriously... or if it was, we'd better just leave it there.)
Concentrate instead on the lush and synthy "Get Together" or the swirling, sexy "Push"; forgive the long intro to "Future Lover" and you might be pleasantly surprised at how well a modest hand transforms simple pop into a hot sweaty, slow-motion club pulse.
Overall, a pleasant return to form for one of modern pop's most intriguing and influential artists. Confessions works as a revision of retro danceclub pop, and it works very, very well.
- Anton MarshallWHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
As Confessions weighs down with more of her personal baggage, the songs become, despite Price's inventive and mercurial production, less inviting and less danceable, as if Madonna wants the dance floor all to herself.- Stephen M. Deusner for Pitchfork reviewsThe effort works well. It won't challenge her best, but it should be enough to keep club kids entranced for months, possibly even a year or two.- Bill Lamb, About Entertainment
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