Towleroad has heard Confessions on a Dance Floor and it is a moody, energized, electric journey that adds a thrilling new chapter to the Madonna catalogue. This is not the bubble gum dance pop of her early endeavors but a more mature, layered, synth-drenched set of tracks that begs for the volume to be turned up!
Confessions is littered with memorable hooks. The album is not the unavoidably “feel good” work I had expected but does not fail to please in just about every way possible. Here’s my track by track review. I agreed with much of that earlier review I had linked to from the British tabloid The Sun.
Here’s my track by track–
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the album’s first single, “Hung Up”. No need for me to describe it here. It’s a great track to kick off the album, full of energy and with the sound of an alarm bell, leads straight into…
The purring vocals of “Get Together”, accompanied by lush, layered synths and a muffled bassline reminiscent of Stardust’s “The Music Sounds Better with You.” This is a really upbeat track about finding love. Asks, “Do you believe we can change the future? Do you believe I can make you feel better?” A very hopeful, optimistic track.
“Sorry” is the next track and is supposedly marked to be the next single, with good reason. “I’ve heard it all before” is repeated over and over until the main lyric kicks in. Extremely catchy chorus. “Sorry” is whispered in various languages. Supposedly there’s a Jackson 5 sample in here, but sorry, I can’t hear it.
You can hear the sample in the next track however. Most everyone will recognize the staccato stuttering from Donna Summer’s classic “I Feel Love” in “Future Lovers”. This could have come straight off of her album Music. It’s got hints of “Impressive Instant”, “Nobody’s Perfect”, and “Runaway Lover” in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a reworked leftover from those sessions.
“I Love New York” is the hardest sounding track on the album with the silliest lyrics. The combination is charming overall. It almost, almost has a “Candy Perfume Girl” feel to it. Madonna is obviously having fun with this track. She avoids saying the word fuck and uses the phrase “F- off” which is perhaps the most surprising moment of all, coming from the queen of profanity.
You can’t hear the sharp violins in the first measures of “Let it Will Be” and not think of “Papa Don’t Preach” but the song then transitions into a more conventionally 80’s-styled track — one of the weaker tracks with a wistful, melancholy feeling to it.
“Forbidden Love” is a downtempo, whispery dance ballad with robotic lyrics ala “Daft Punk”. Synthetic plucked harp strings and bells texture the lush arrangement. A lot of very 80’s elements here too – parts of it feel very Book of Love.
The next track, “Jump”, is a lesson in not being stagnant and embracing change. It’s got a great chorus. It’s impossible to hear the lyric “the only thing you can depend on is your family” and not think of her 1990 hit “Keep It Together”.
“How High” begins in a vocoded echo chamber and asks, How high are the stakes? Was it all worth it? And how did I earn it? A meditation on fortune and fame. The nursery rhyme-like chorus consists of various phrases which climb and climb like the rungs of a ladder, finally transitioning into…
The Jewish chant of “Isaac”, threaded throughout this compelling track, is an obvious Kabbalistic element. A mysterious and enchanting track. Madonna sings, “Wrestle with your darkness, angels call your name, can you hear what they’re saying, will you ever be the same?” She layers it with humming (“Mmmmmm”) reminiscent of her ’94 track “Secret”.
“Push” is supposedly about Guy Ritchie. There are some familiar elements here too. Arrangements straight out of “Don’t Stop” from Bedtime Stories and a chorus that borrows heavily from “Like a Prayer”. She also borrows a few lines from The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”. That said, she makes the track her own even though it sounds a bit like a Madonna casserole.
“Like It or Not” – A defiant finale that cries out to her critics. She’s never going to change. Some synth elements in the song are borrowed from “The Power of Goodbye” though the track has an entirely different vibe and goes out in a lovely way on an acoustic guitar. Absolute bliss.
All in all, a thoughtfully woven journey that showcases the superior talents of producer Stuart Price. All songs are mixed together effortlessly yet stand distinctively on their own. I applaud this effort. The old gray mare still has it in her!
Glad I got that out of my system.
I confess I need to lay off Madge for awhile.