The tricky part about listening to a new Madonna album is that everyone has an opinion on the Queen of Pop. So immediately, you will have polarizing opinions on the fact that, Rebel Heart, Madonna’s 13th studio album, is being released just months before her 57th birthday. At 56, however, Madonna can run in tow with her colleagues that not only are half her age but model their sound off after her.

The intriguing thing about Rebel Heart is that some of her strongest efforts come from the ballads. “John of Arc”, albeit its obvious lyrics, feels like the most genuine effort Madonna has given in recent memory. Heartbreak City, with its militant like percussion showcases Madonna’s emotive vocal ability.

There is a level of confidence that Madonna exudes on each of these tracks that, even when they don’t necessarily hit the mark, should definitely be noted as a highlight onRebel Heart. What makes Rebel Heart instantly better than its predecessors (specificallyMDNA and Hard Candy) is Madonna has taken control of her sound. Everyone else, (additional producers and features) are used as supporting actors in her quest for chart success.

But even with it’s successes, Rebel Heart does come with its share of low points. There is the classic “my body is like a car” tune “Body Shop”, reggae tinged “Unapologetic Bitch” which comes off as an uninspired Diplo track and the trite “Inside Out”. Admittedly, all of these songs could be found on many other pop albums from heavy-hitting stars but when you have 14 tracks on the standard edition, you can omit the sidesteps.

Rebel Heart is a solid effort from Madonna, however, it will not be remembered as a progressive or landmark album (if you are looking for those, might I recommend: Ray of Light, Music or Like a Prayer) but it will not be remembered as a low-point in Madonna’s discography.

Rating: 6.5/10

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