In The Evidence Of Her Brilliance

Music review: Madame X

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MADAME X (Universal) ★★★

Madonna’s 21st-century music, made in the considerable shadow of her breakthrough hit singles and cultural ascent, has gone back and forth between a desire for relevance and a yen to experiment: for every calibrated collaboration with a Justin Timberlake or Nicki Minaj, there is a bonkers album track or a disco throb dance-off. With its taste for rhythmic Latin pop, artful flourishes and (vague) political dictates, Madame X embraces the latter tendency. It is by no means a great album, but it’s eclectic in tone and always committed to fulfilling each song’s diverse ambitions. It skips between the barrio street rally of Batuka and the baroque saviour ballad Killers Who Are Partying with confidence, even if the multi-lingual commentary could do with an extra dancefloor filler or two. Sepulchral choirs dot these songs, with Madonna casting herself as a symbol of salvation for the downtrodden, but her beliefs are never completely altruistic. Believing in Madonna is the faith that truly nourishes her, and this unpredictable record sets her up as the ultimate gatekeeper. “Not everyone is coming to the future,” she warns on Future. “Not everyone’s that here is gonna last.” CRAIG MATHIESON