“Madame X is a secret agent,” prefaced Madonna. She continued to describe the many personas of the protagonist who lends her name to the Queen of Pop’s fourteenth record; “She’s a dancer, professor, head of state, equestrian, prisoner, mother, teacher, nun, and saint,” to name a few. Over the course of fifteen tracks each persona crops up, dictating the pace.
The record, a sprawling adventure steered by a variety of genres from dancehall, trap-pop, to hip-hop, was influenced by Madonna’s recent residency in Portugal; where she uprooted her life to in 2017, while her son trained at the Benfica Football Academy. Working with French producer Mirwais, with whom she collaborated on her magnificent disco-fuelled records Music (2000) and Confessions On A Dancefloor (2005), the American singer retrieves that exuberance from that golden era of her career. Namely, on God Control’s epic swell of disco. Bolstered by bright strings and bumping drum-beats, the infectious melody quickly becomes ingrained in the ear.
For the most-part, the construct of the arrangements teeters on bizarre, nay questionable. Take for example the synthesized sample of Dance of the Reed Pipes from The Nutcracker in Dark Ballet’s mid-section. A concept song inspired by Joan of Arc. Or, suspect politics in her lyrics.
Nestled amongst obscurity there are moments to relish. While this isn’t a masterpiece, it’s an improvement from 2015’s Rebel Heart.
Words: Zara Hedderman
Like This? Try These:
Lady Gaga – The Fame Monster
Madonna – Music
Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated