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If Ray of Light could be described as “wet,” then Music is definitely “dry.”
And we’re not just talking about the unprocessed vocal track producer Mirwais Ahmadzai employed throughout the album either.
The drowning man studio effects that washed Madonna’s voice in ethereal introspection on Ray of Light has been replaced by a very metallic, square-wave synthetic sound that’s as cold as it is impersonal.
This time around, Madonna doesn’t want us to join her on a spiritual journey — she wants us to just shut up and dance.
Mirwais and previous collaborator William Orbit uses some pretty interesting timbres on this album, but that’s all they really amount to — something new, maybe even cool but nothing that really adds value to the songs.
The songwriting is drier, too. There isn’t much along the lines of the emotional poignancy of “Frozen” or the exuberance of “Ray of Light,” and some of the tracks that attempt for that depth — “I Deserve It”, “Don’t Tell Me”, “Paradise (Not For Me)” — fall just a bit short.
Music starts off promising enough as a four-on-the-floor dance record, but as it progresses, it loses its direction and focus. It seems as if Madonna couldn’t decide to continue on the thematic path mapped by her last album or take a detour to something a bit new.
She does a bit of both on Music and it comes across as a scattered as a result.
In one sentence: this album ain’t no sequel to Ray of Light.
And in some way, that’s a really good thing. Make no mistake — Music is an enjoyable album. It’s just not an Important Artistic Statement that some folks — namely, me — expected. Or desired.