Album Review: Madonna - MDNA

1 May 2012 | 2:19 pm | Matt O'Neill

A faceless album made from plastic by the very artist who proved that pop could be so much more than that.

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It's telling that, of the guests featured on Madonna's twelfth studio album, Lady Gaga isn't included. While tracks like Give Me All Your Luvin' and I Don't Give A boast (ultimately quite superfluous) appearances from young luminaries like M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, Madonna's most obvious successor is conspicuous by her absence. Taken as a whole, MDNA reads as Madonna's attempt to show her world-conquering protégée how it's done. The question is – does it work?

Not really, no. MDNA is a competent album but it isn't a tremendously interesting one. Madonna has precisely targeted Gaga's Born This Way sound and delivered a more streamlined, polished variant. Whereas Born This Way sounded like Gaga and her homegrown crew crudely slapping together a raw hybrid of her various contradictory influences (eurodance, heavy metal, '80s pop), MDNA cherry-picks modern production heavyweights like Benny Benassi and Martin Solveig to deliver an exquisite sounding melange of noughties trash-trance and '80s sheen.

Make no mistake; MDNA constitutes an absolute triumph of mechanics. Still, Madonna misses the point of those mechanics – both in Gaga's work and her own. It's not about mechanics. It's about personality. Personality – and songs. MDNA boasts a vague handful of decent tunes (I'm Addicted is killer, as is the aforementioned I Don't Give A and the gloriously stupid Gang Ban) but the remainder are hollow, dross and, in regards to personality, utterly devoid of all signs of life. The lyrics are vacant and unbelievable and Madonna's vocals could have been done by her Botox.

Put simply, it's a faceless album made from plastic by the very artist who proved that pop could be so much more than that. Rubbish, in other words. 

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