Rebel Heart starts so bloody well it’s basically the EP of her career, although there’s an immediate sticking point. The problem with “Devil Pray” isn’t the sultry tune, which flirts with Arabic chanting in the same way “La Isla Bonita” flirted with flamenco, but the lyrics. If you pretend she’s 18 it’s great, but she wouldn’t be where she was today if she followed half the song’s suggestions: “We can get stoned/And we can sniff glue/And we can do E/And we can drop acid”. Really? Didn’t we get this ‘down with the kids’ thing out of the system with the MDNA album?
Without wanting to detract from her own songwriting, Madonna has recently worked with so many people that it’s almost insulting to those she hasn’t. There are too many lazily dialed in collaborations from people she’s never met, and there’s even a song called “Illuminati”, which perfectly demonstrates why b-sides need to be re-introduced (there are 19 songs here, when there could be 12).
Spot on review. It's such a haphazard album and far too long. I always like to listen to albums in full but with this one I'm going to make a supercut playlist and forget that half of it exists.
Still, miles better than her previous two albums.