After months of planning, a slew of leaked demos and one indictment later, Madonna fans can finally celebrate as “Rebel Heart” has had its official release. The world is watching, critics are chiming in, and for better or for worse the 56 year old Material Girl is at the center of attention once again. Let’s take a look into “Rebel Heart”, shall we?
Madonna’s 13th album rounds up production from a big list of industry heavyweights, such as Diplo, Aviici, Kanye West, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ryan Tedder and Montréal native Mathieu Jomphe a.k.a Billboard; who produed the 2nd single “Ghosttown”. The end result is a record that boasts current pop sounds, routed in a more urban setting with contrasting themes of love, pain, rebellion, religion, introspection through self-discovery, and the ever classic sexual lust Madge is known for.
Upon first listen I will admit to feeling underwhelmed. While much of this record shows Madonna’s ability to stay current in an ever changing industry, many of the tracks can come off juvenile and contrived lyrically. Such as the Diplo helmed EDM club banger “Bitch I’m Madonna,” while being a ton of fun in a club setting, reflects a side of the singer I find to be below her level of intelligence.
Speaking as a Madonna fan, this album has a slow drip and will grow on you. The trivial lyrics on some of the tracks become acceptable when fully rounded with the urban bangers such as “Illuminati” or “Veni Vidi Vici” which feature Madge rapping, not for the sake of currency but simply to home in her spoken word skills. To which she gives us a crash course in Madonna-ology, self referencing career milestones spanning well over a decade in a clever fashion, maintaining a fierce element of class.
Don’t let the loudest and overtly porn-esque tracks like “S.E.X” and the Natalia Kills co-written “Holy Water” fool you. This album holds just as many classic Madge styled ballads and mid-tempo tracks, such as “Joan of Arc”, HeartBreakCity”, “Wash All Over Me”, and “Messiah.”
Here we get to delve into her insecurities and angst ridden emotions stemming from toxic breakups to the ever present criticism faced by Madonna on many topics like spirituality, age, and creative direction. Maybe the biggest shock to hear on the record is that with 32 years in the business, Madonna is still susceptible to criticism. All of which come together in the albums closer, and title track “Rebel Heart.” A delightful mid-tempo guitar driven anthem about self-discovery.
At this point in her career, Madonna does not need another number 1 album or single. Truthfully she doesn’t really need to put out new material at all, her legacy is solidified.
Despite being new, “Rebel Heart” almost plays as a collection of hits. From the “Vogue” sample in “Holy Water” to interpolations of “Justify My Love” on the sensual “Best Night.” Madonna, always known for reinvention, feels at her truest state of self moving forward by looking back.
The only musical consistency offered on “Rebel Heart” is its inconsistency, which is ok. Just a wonderfully messy thing, and perhaps another nod at Madonna’s care free, “I don’t give a…” attitude to life. Overall I give this album a solid B, and will continue to enjoy the efforts from the Queen of Pop.
“Rebel Heart” is available at retailers now, be sure to check it out! If Madonna has ever given you something you’ve enjoyed there will no doubt be something to jam with here on her 13th effort.
The “Rebel Heart Tour” rolls into Montréal on September 9th at the Bell Centre. Tickets have been on pre-sale since the middle of this week, with the public on sale Saturday March 14th at 12PM
Hope all you Rebel Hearts out there enjoyed reading, and continue “Living for Love!”