Rebel Heart

Madonna is in a rare reflective mood on her 13th album. The Queen of Pop’s last outing, MDNA, largely played it safe on the dance floor with nice enough songs about of love, heartache, religion and sex. On Rebel Heart, she revisits her go-to themes, but it’s the songs that play around with Madonna’s status as professional pop icon (Veni Vidi Vici, Joan Of Arc and Illuminati) that are the most ambitious and interesting lyrically.

The album is surprisingly full of acoustic sounds and wistful balladry reminiscent of her 90s material, but it also plugs into a load of dark, restless and weird club rhythms with help from a coterie of in-demand producers (Diplo, Mike Dean, Avicii, Blood Diamonds, Sophie, DJ Dahi). This array of styles flows nicely thanks to Madonna’s ear for simple and clean melodies that not only flatter her thinner vocal performances but also anchor the more nutso numbers, like the pop masterpiece that is Bitch I’m Madonna – essentially one self-referential summation within another.

Top track: Bitch I’m Madonna, featuring Nicki Minaj

Madonna plays the Air Canada Centre October 5.


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