By - Jan 1st, 2006 02:52 pm
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By Jon M. Gilbertson


When music industry observers can refer to an album that �only� went platinum as a serious failure, then it�s clear they�re talking about an artist who�s redefined the concept of success. In the last 25 years, that could only be Madonna, whose 2003 work, American Life, sold over a million copies without one Top Ten single.

Hence Confessions on a Dance Floor, which revisits the clubs that first played her. Musically, it�s clearly a throwback; the tracks run together like the set of a particularly adroit DJ who knows her listeners don�t want to hear a single moment of silence to break their absorbed movement. Although �Future Lovers� touches upon the multiple harmonies of psychedelic-era Beatles, and �Hung Up� leads off the album as a genuine single, this is less a pop album to be heard than an extended mix of beats to feel as the lights flash and the drugs and alcohol do their things internally, and the sweat and sexual energy do their things externally.

Lyrically, Confessions is mostly as empty as Madonna�s bank account is not, although that doesn�t prevent one or two musings, notably �Let It Will Be,� on the price of fame. Yet the combination of self-importance and everyday cliché�plus the use of the word �dork� as a rhyming lynchpin in the East Coast solipsism of �I Love New York��are in this context as beside the point as Esther, her Kabbalah name. The album is all about rhythm and motion, even if both point to the past rather than to the future, where Madonna supposedly was once leading the rest of us.  VS

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