Madonna is no stranger to controversy, whether it's cocking a snook at the Catholic Church (they'll just love the Holy Water track), snogging Britney, making Christian Grey blush during the Erotica days or creating a riot on the Blond Ambition tour. With the release of her 13th album, Rebel Heart she continues to stamp her mark on pop culture by being pulled from the Radio 1 playlist. Of course they deny the fact that they deem Madonna irrelevant to a modern audience, despite the mighty Madonna inventing everything that the kids today listen to and more, hell she's Madonna...Bitch!
Living For Love, the opening track, retains Madonna's trademark catch pop dance base, but lyrically it shows further maturity to her work. Perhaps there's a smattering of truth in the song, perhaps there's not, either way it's a wonderful ease into an album which throws several curved balls and plenty of glorious surprises. Devil Pray, has the country outlaw feel that we grew to love in her 2000 album Music. Despite its drug referencing lyrics the song is a pop folk canticle at heart. The great songs just keep flowing coming from this album with the sensitive and tender ballad Ghosttown which is one of the many stand out tracks.
The mood of the album shifts with Unapologetic Bitch, which has a reggae vibe and some lyrical spinning from our songstress. It's a paean to women who want to reclaim the power after a break up and delivered in a way that only the Queen of Pop can. Once again it's grinding, rhythmic dance bass is flawless.
Bitch I'm Madonna featuring Nicki Minaj sees the album turn another corner with a fierce 'street' track. It's fresh, modern, fun and typically outrageous! Joan Of Arc, another brave and bold personal song which sounds as if it's filled with vulnerability, but it actually relinquishes the power of the press vultures and haters rendering them impotent in a display of strength and role reversal. Iconic is another empowering track that plays with plenty of electro textures. Holy Water continues the themes of regaining control and female power in a thunderously sexy track, with lyrics to make the Pope blush. Listen out for a segment from Vogue too.
Inside Out adds a hypnotic bass line to Madonna's Machiavellian vocals for this track and another ballad Wash Over Me rounds up this versatile and terrific album. Madonna's vocals are effortless throughout and the production complements them perfectly. Inevitably with every new album comes a reinvention, but this time round she strikes gold with not running alongside those modern wannabes, trying to out do them. It's almost as though she has stopped trying to prove herself. With that acceptance she has made her best album since Ray Of Light, whilst strangely incorporating all the elements of her earlier work. Simply put it's a highly evolved work of pop genius!