Ah Madonna. Despite that rare moment of vulnerability when she fell down the stairs at the Brit Awards last week, these days she mostly seems like an indestructible creation.

An ageless star who could keep dancing and singing and churning out records forever - whether anyone is still listening or not.

But despite that veneer, Madonna has grown older - and so have her fans - so to keep pretending she's the same artist she was 20 years ago, or to keep trying to sound like she's still in her 20s doesn't really work.

And that confusion about her identity and who she is as a musician in 2015, means instead of presenting an empowering statement, Rebel Heart is a bit of a mess.


Watch the music video for Living For Love by Madonna:

It doesn't really sound like the Madonna of old, it doesn't sound like Madonna reinvented, it mostly sounds like a whole bunch of other people writing music for someone much younger, with Madonna contributing some pretty thin, overly-processed guest vocals.

It's over-produced to an uncomfortable extreme, and is such a hodge-podge of ideas that just about every track sounds gimmicky.

There is some half decent pop songwriting underneath all the extraneous faff. Living For Love is a great single, and makes some sense with its uplifting, heartfelt, Madonna-like pop strength.

And Ghosttown feels like it could've been a decent 80s-tinged hit, but the chorus buries her vocals in a lot of fuzz, and it loses momentum.

Unapologetic Bitch is an interesting electro-reggae cut co-written with Diplo, but Madge's voice sounds out of place, and overly thin in the context of the track. And that's just the first of many moments where her identity as a musician seems lost.

Illuminati sounds like a trying-too-hard version of Lady Gaga meets MIA, and Iconic could definitely be accused of trying to emulate the success of Katy Perry's Dark Horse. It's not an awful track, but it doesn't really feel fresh, nor does it feel classic.

Bitch I'm Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj is just awful though, while Joan of Arc feels awfully pedestrian, and there's so little substance to Hold Tight, it seems wrong to call it a song.

HeartBreakCity is one of the few remaining tracks here that sounds like something Madonna should be releasing at this point in her career - it sounds invested, it sounds dramatic, and it sounds true to her past artistry.


The rest of it, sadly, just sounds confused.




Rebel Heart



Verdict: Musically confused and lacking identity

- TimeOut