Madonna ‘Madame X’ reviews: Is her ‘uncompromising’ new album her best in years?

In recent years Madonna hasn’t been quite the musical tastemaker she was in her ’80s and ’90s heyday, but her 14th album, “Madame X,” which dropped on June 14, might be a late-career return to form for the erstwhile Material Girl. The new album has scored 73 on MetaCritic based on a dozen reviews (8 positive, 4 mixed, none outright negative), which is her best critical mark since “Confessions on a Dance Floor” scored 80 in 2005.

Critics are noting the musical adventurousness of the new collection, which isn’t chasing modern pop relevance as hard as she was in her last two efforts “MDNA” (2012) and “Rebel Heart” (2015). She’s “unapologetically indulging all her whims and quirks,” resulting in “her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record” since the aforementioned “Confessions.” It’s an “uncompromising musical statement.”

Could it get her back to the Grammys? She’s a seven-time winner, but hasn’t been nominated since 2010, and the last time she won was in 2008 for her long form music video “The Confessions Tour.” Perhaps surprisingly, Madonna took a while to catch on with the recording academy. Though she was a powerful hitmaker throughout the 1980s, she didn’t win her first prize until 1992, when her “Blonde Ambition” long form video prevailed. And she didn’t win for one of her albums until “Ray of Light” won Best Pop Album in 1999. Then “Confessions” claimed Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2007. Those are her only album awards, and she has never won in the general field.

Is she worthy of a comeback on the charts and on the awards scene? Check out some of the reviews for “Madame X” below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow music fans here in our forums.

Sal Cinquemani (Slant): “‘Madame X’ sounds like the work of an artist reawakened, and one who’s got something to say. It’s a development reportedly inspired by her time in Lisbon, where she was surrounded by musicians and art in a way she hadn’t been since her pre-fame days in the East Village … ‘Madame X’ is fearless, the sound of an artist unapologetically indulging all of her whims and quirks.”

Ben Beaumont-Thomas (The Guardian): “With ‘Madame X,’ Madonna instead grits her teeth, puts on a glitter-encrusted eyepatch, looks in the mirror with seriously reduced depth perception and says: ‘Bitch, I’m Madonna.’ And by drawing on the Latin influence of not just reggaeton-crazed recent pop but also her new home base of Lisbon, she has, at 60, produced her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since ‘Confessions.'”

Jeremy Helligar (Variety): “In a 36-year recording career that has found the 60-year-old walking more tightropes than the average A-list pop superstar, Madonna has delivered her most uncompromising musical statement yet with her 14th album, ‘Madame X’ … But you likely won’t hear any of this playing on a radio near you. That’s what makes ‘Madame X’ Madonna’s best album since ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor.'”

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “Latin rhythms figure heavily on the whole album — a side effect, maybe, of her primary residency in Portugal over the past few years. But its global sounds and millennial guest stars, including rappers Quavo and Swae Lee, can feel more like obligatory flag-planting than organic evolution. As an artist, Madonna owes nothing to some ageist, retrograde idea of what she’s allowed to be; if only ‘Madame’ felt like a more compelling rebuttal to all that.”

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