Rewind: Madonna, American Life

[Madonna - American Life]

Rewind takes a look at past reviews to see how they hold up today. The albums featured on Rewind were part of my collection, then sold for cash only to be reacquired later.

Whew, there’s a lot of vitriol in my review of American Life. Oddly enough, my opinion has turned around somewhat on the album.

What I thought was “thin and unconvincing” now strikes me as angular and off-beat. It’s certainly one of Madonna’s weirder sounding albums, and it should get some credit for stretching her sonic palette.

So what accounted for the strong reaction in 2003?

Pretty much: Ray of Light.

The 1998 album was in constant rotation in my car CD player, and its singles could not be avoided at gay bars. Madonna’s voice had strengthened after getting a workout on Evita, and the songs were her most emotionally resonant since Like a Prayer.

Any follow up to such a watershed work would have a high bar to surpass.

I tried to give Music the benefit of the doubt, but recent plays of that album has revealed it does not hold up well. American Life turns out to have improved on the ideas of Music. The rapping still sucks, but the acoustic guitar flourishes sound fresh even now.

I still consider it one of Madonna’s weaker albums, but it no longer sits at the bottom of the heap.

And I’ve actually welcomed a physical copy back into my collection. I had owned a promo copy I snagged from my job at Waterloo Records, but once I discovered I disliked the album, I gave it back. The current copy was acquired at the Lifelong Thrift Shop for $1.

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