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Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor

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Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor

Madonna - Confessions on a Dancefloor

Maverick Records

I had a conflicted response to Madonna's last full-length, 2003's American Life (see link here). So the first thing I have to say is that Confessions on a Dancefloor is very different from that record, and it is some straight-up dance pop, and that's a good thing. It's the most fun record she's made since True Blue, and part of that is due to producer Stuart Price. I've dug his work for several years now, and you could almost look at his work on the Juliet album (which every dance fan worth his or her soul needs to check out) as a dry run for this record.

The most immediate difference between this record and its American Life predecessor is the richness of the sound. If the stylistic trademark of the Madonna/Mirwais collaborations were rough edges and jagged noises, then let's tag the Stuart Price/Les Rhythmes Digitales/Paper Faces/Jacques LuCont/Thin White Duke sound as lush and pulsing. It's hard to say what is the result of La M exploring a new sound and what is a reaction to the response to the American Life and Rare & Remixed albums, but this is certainly an enjoyable record- and more tonally consistent than her records since Ray of Light.

When I heard that the album was going to be continuously segued, I got nervous. I shouldn't have worried, because this is nothing like the average continuous-play dance CD. It feels more like the classic approaches to such a sequence from the great Donna Summer/Pete Bellotte/Giorgio Moroder albums of the seventies, most specifically in the shimmering transition between "Forbidden Love" and "Jump."

"Hung Up" really has way too much Abba in it for its own good. It's one of the two spots on the record where the lyrics seem to have been done in the style of the American Life sessions (the other being "I Love New York," which is the only stinker on the album). The only reason I can think of for this to be chosen as the first single was the Motorola ad campaign. It's not a bad song by far, it has pep and a sense of fun, but it's not even close to being one of the best songs on the record. As for "I Love New York," the music is great, but the lyrics are simply awful.

"Get Together" is a weird and wonderful number that vaguely takes the chord progressions of Stardust's "Music Sounds Better With You" (or, since this is dancemusic.about.com and trainspotting is practically a noble act, "Fate" by Chaka Khan) and quotes from "Take Your Time, Do It Right" by the S.O.S. Band in the act of making an anthem about that limitless possibilities of finding love on the dance floor. "Do you believe in love at first sight? It's an illusion," she sings, following with "I don't care." If the song is meant to represent a conversation or an internal dialogue, we don't know, but it fits. It is followed by "Sorry," which a friend insists uses the chords of "Material Girl," though I must confess that I don't really hear it.

A word about the references to other records one finds amongst these confessions- "Hung Up" is the only track that, at this point, sounds like it is built around a specific sample. There have been reviews of the record which claim that "Future Lovers" uses a sample of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," but to me it sounds like a replayed sequence.

I could be wrong, but it sounds like a different arpeggiation. Regardless, Donna, Pete, and Giorgio will be making some dollars. More often than not, these tracks use extrapolations of chord progressions, which gives the faintest vibe of familiarity yet remain defiantly new pieces. The aforementioned "Future Lovers" is a muscular electrodisco track, matched by the pizzicato strings and Hi-NRG bassline (which for some reason reminds me of La M's own "Burning Up") of "Let It Will Be," which begins a four-song streak of absolute genius in the record's second half.

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