Reviewing a new Madonna album is a difficult task. It's not only a matter of deconstructing the merits of a particular set of songs, but also a review of the woman herself. In her 53 years on this planet, she's been a lot of things: a chubby boy-toy, a silver screen ingenue and a weird latex-sex champion. Her newest persona is also probably the closest to the truth: pretentious 53-year-old mom. While embracing middle age has its benefits, it also forces people to consider your relevancy. Just ask Cher.
"MDNA" is Madonna's 12th album, but it might as well be her 40th. She's the Bob Dylan of mindless pop, and opening track (and recent single) "Girl Gone Wild" wouldn't be out of place on anything she's released since "Erotica." It's fun, sure, but it's not going to sweep the Grammy's.
Aside from a wretched choice of song titles, ("Gang Bang" and "I'm a Sinner"), the record doesn't really falter until it's more than halfway over. The abysmal "Superstar" is chock full of trite lyrics atop trite dance beats. "I'm your biggest fan, it's true / Hopelessly attracted to you / You can have the keys to my car / I'll play you a song on my guitar," she sings. Even Taylor Swift would cringe at that.
Overall, "MDNA" is a fun dance-pop record, in almost all of the ways that the previous 11 Madonna albums were. At 53, Madonna sees no reason to reinvent the wheel, preferring instead to symbolically pass the torch to younger artists like M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj, who both make competent guest appearances on the centerpiece track "Give Me All Your Luvin'."
"Luvin'" is easily the best single here, and realistically, Madonna albums are just a couple of impressive singles and a whole lot of filler. "MDNA" is no exception. Maybe she'll release her "Highway 61 Revisited" when she's 70.