Friday, November 11, 2005

Madonna available on MTV's "The Leak": my very self-indulgent first impressions

MTV's "The Leak" now has Madonna's Confessions On A Dancefloor. Go here to listen to the entire album before it is released next week:

Here are my first impressions (I won't review it until next week):

1. Hung Up

The track we already know and love, but it sounds like its been extended in parts. I love that hard bass. Yes, it is definitely longer, and includes that "underwater" part, like in the video.

2. Get Together

The so-called "seamless" mixing consisted only of that ticking alarm clock from the beginning of "Hung Up." Opens with rich keyboards. This sounds cool, sort of like "The Music Sounds Better With You," with its loud, pulsing keyboards. The beat kicks in a bit late, but I like it--more late evening/early morning than "Hung Up." Again, the keyboards take over and drown out the beat during the bridge, but then the beat comes back.

3. Sorry

"Sorry's" been flagged as the second single, so I hope it doesn't disappoint. The beat really builds at the beginning and hits hard. This is great. Very fast and doesn't really sound like anything else, except, and I know this sounds strange, but maybe Depeche Mode? It has that dark edge to it. She's speaking a different language now, hmmm...

4. Future Lovers

Is Madonna unhappy? Not since Erotica have we had so many songs written in minor keys. Speaking of Erotica, this opens with spoken word, which was so characteristic of that album. I don't think this album has enough hard bass and loud low-tone keyboards (sarcasm). This song is okay, but not as good as the last three tracks, which I thought were all great. Maybe it will grow on me.

5. I Love New York

The seamless mixing is working better now. I almost didn't notice this song's start. She just said "dork" rhymed with New York. Now she's dissing Los Angeles, Paris, and London, two of which she has called home at some point. New York needs a love song from Madonna, and this one is pretty fitting. "f-off" now, oh my, and a kitten sound affect. This is fun, but I'm not sure if I like it yet, since it's so weird.

6. Let It Will Be

Opens with strings, a la "Papa Don't Preach," but I have a feeling this will go somewhere else. Sounds very synth-80s, kind of like Depeche Mode again. I like this song. The sound keeps growing through the song, good stuff.

7. Forbidden Love

So Madonna's already had a song called "Forbidden Love," (Track 7, Bedtime Stories). There's some strong vocoder effects at play here, and more '80s-sounding synths. So it's not a remake of the original "Forbidden Love" at all, which is good. This is fine, but less interesting than most of the songs that have preceeded it, and sounds a lot like the last song, actually.

8. Jump

Hopefully not a Van Halen or Pointer Sisters remake. Okay good, it's clearly not. More Erotica-esque sexy spoken word. This sounds good so far--great vocals. Hard bass, repeating synth strings. Singing about her family again, very Madonna. Sounds good. I think it would make a good single.

9. How High

I assume this is a response to the last song (" high?"). Weird vocal effects and that ticking clock again (although it sounds like it's hiding under a sweater). This reminds me a bit of "Angel" and "Over and Over." I wasn't sure at first, but this is sounding good. Nice synth strings for the bridge. Again, I think this is one I'll need to listen to a few times before I decide if I like it.

10. Isaac

Where did the bass go? Oh boy, there's someone (a guy, not Madonna) chant/singing in a different language. Madonna's back, but there are some strange sounds at work here. Ray of Light had "Mer Girl," Music had "Paradise," American Life had "X-Static Process," and yes that's right, Confessions on a Dancefloor has a weird track too. This is okay, not as weird as Mer Girl, but it's certainly dark. Now some guys is talking about the gates of heaven and angels, like he's being interviewed. Not my favorite.

11. Push

Sounds vaguely middle eastern as it builds off of Isaac. Pulsing keyboards again, with a heavy, but slower beat. One thing's for sure, Stuart Price (the producer) is a master with a synthesizer. There is some very cool, innovative keyboard layering and sound effect work at play. I'm afraid I can't say this song is that great either, although it's better than the last. It might grow on me.

12. Like It Or Not

Last tracks on Madonna albums are either excellent ("Vogue," "Take a Bow," "Secret Garden," "Gone" or forgettable "Mer Girl," "Love Makes The World Go Round," "Act of Contrition."). This starts out kind of like "Frozen," but then gets louder. Again, I have to draw on Depeche Mode for comparison, to say that the beat is reminiscent of "Personal Jesus." The message here is "this is who I am, like it or not," which is always good, but we've heard it before from Madge. Now she's singing about the garden and the snake--wasn't that in "Mer Girl?" Closes with acoustic guitar. Madonna has left the dance floor.

Overall, decent. Not a classic, but certainly solid. The sound, while obviously loud and fast, is also very dark, with every song written in a minor key, just like Erotica was, and like that album, she's only worked with one producer, so the album is very unified. The continuous mixing wasn't quite as interesting as I thought it would be, and was hardly noticeable in some cases. I was expecting more 70s influence, but I thought it sounded more 80s, drawing on 80s dark synth stuff, especially Depeche Mode. A consistent quality to it is that multi-layering sound effect like you would get with a DJ mixing in a club, which is exactly the sound they're going for. Lots of hard bass, lots of deep keyboards, with the bass and keyboards weaving in and out for dominance. If I had to choose what album this most closely sounds like, I'd probably say Erotica or Ray of Light, since it's so obviously club-influenced like those albums. Definitely better than American Life, which I nonetheless admire for its experimentation. I'll write an official review by next weekend.


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R said...

I personally love this album. Of course, Hung Up is the shiz, but "Jump" is my second favorite. I know what you mean about wishing there was more eighties-DepecheMode-esque stuff, but really she just wanted to make a purely-dance pop album and she succeeded.

And she looks so freaking good at 47 it hurts.