I don’t know about you, but I’m beginnning to think Madonna is a Time Lord. In Madame X, Madonna presents yet another regeneration and an album with two themes: the accessible songs based in part on her experiences living in Portugal, and the songs based on her Madame X character. Madame X the character is an endless list of things: a spy, dancer, professor, head of state, housekeeper, equestrian and nun who sleeps with one eye open (hence the patch).
But in real life, Madame X was what Madonna’s dance teacher called her because she couldn’t tell what Madonna was thinking. This album tells you exactly what Madonna thinks. In songs like Crave, Crazy, I Rise, she speaks openly about what it is like to be her. She often feels criticized, she feels solidarity with people who are poor and oppressed. She feels unable to have an equal relationship with a partner. She is almost painfully honest about her life here, to a funky Latin beat. And its fascinating.
Not all the tracks are great: since its release, ‘Dark Ballet’ has had generations of Britons humming ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nut Case’ against their will. ‘God Control’ is a disco schooling on why smoking dope is bad. But there’s more good than bad.
Like Bowie, Madonna is a true innovator. She keeps up to date with pop culture, she reinvents herself, she takes risks. This is a risky album, and bits of it work better than others. But it is her best album in a very long time, and it deserves a careful attention.