While Bruce Springsteen gracefully accepts his senior citizenship on his new album, “Western Stars,” Madonna isn’t having any part of acting like an old lady on her “Madame X” LP, which also drops Friday.
Sounding more energized and adventurous than she has in years, for the first album of her 60s, she’s still pushing herself to the borderline.
“Madame X” — an eye patch-wearing, identity-changing alter ego who Madonna has described as a “spy in the house of love” — reunites the uber-diva with producer Mirwais, who got her to explore her experimental side on 2000’s “Music” and 2003’s “American Life.” She’s getting her freak on again, with far more ambitious tracks than had been hinted at by the singsong reggaeton of the album’s first single “Medellín.”
Inspired by her move to Lisbon, Portugal, in 2017, the album has a globe-trotting intrepidness that takes you from the African-textured “Batuka” — with its tribal drums and co-writing assist from Madonna’s Malawi-born son David Banda, 13 — to the Portuguese funk of “Faz Gostoso,” featuring Brazilian singer Anitta.
Meanwhile, “I Don’t Search, I Find” twirls back to the EDM of 2005’s “Confessions on a Dance Floor” — to disco-ball-dizzying effect.
And then, over the goth-meets-disco swirl of “God Control,” she raps (yes, raps), “People think that I’m insane/The only gun is in my brain/Each new birth, it gives me hope/That’s why I don’t smoke that dope.”
Sure, the album is uneven in spots. The atmospheric yearning of “Crave,” featuring Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd, works as a hip-hop collaboration; the weird electro-reggae of “Future,” featuring Quavo of Migos, does not. And they overdo the Auto-Tune.
“Madame X” closes with the anthemic ballad “I Rise,” timed perfectly for this month’s Gay Pride celebration by the longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community. “Died a thousand times/Managed to survive,” sings Madonna, who proves once more why she’s pop’s ultimate survivor.
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