Madonna | Confessions On A Dance Floor (Warner Bros)

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The veritable tsunami of writhing pop temptresses who have assaulted America’s eyes—and, more importantly, its ears—all owe their existence to a certain Ms. Ciccone, who appeared with all the force of an atomic bomb in the ’80s to help reshape the very notion of a female pop singer. Sadly, when Madonna is reduced to sucking face with the very ingénues she helped spawn on the MTV Video Music Awards to prove her relevancy to a generation unfamiliar with her catalog, you know that a reboot is needed—and badly.

Flash forward to 2005: “Like a Prayer” hot—that’s what I thought of Madonna’s most recent reinvention when I first glimpsed her Rolling Stone cover a few weeks back. A master of pressing the reset button every few years, Madonna tried on the guise of angry peacemonger for the 2003 misfire American Life; not surprisingly, it was an awkward fit.

Appropriate, then, that Detroit’s native daughter would retreat into the comfortable confines of the discotheque. Confessions on a Dance Floor is easily Madonna’s most cohesive and enjoyable album since Ray of Light; by eschewing track breaks and sequencing the album as one long, club-ready mix, Madge has fashioned an album that fairly reeks of five years from now.

“It’s about having a good time straight through and nonstop,” quoth Mrs. Guy Ritchie in the accompanying press materials. “I want people to jump out of their seats.”

It’s certainly hard to stay seated as Confessions on a Dance Floor slinks out of the speakers. Billed as “future disco,” Confessions features one of the year’s truly irresistible tracks, “Hung Up,” an Abba-fueled slice of “Saturday Night Fever 2020” action, yet while grooving forward, the Material Girl’s 14th full-length album hearkens back to the late ’70s, when cocaine dusted the dance floors and mirror balls made the light cavort amid heads of carefully feathered hair.

As decadent sonic soundscapes go, Confessions sustains a sensual, moody groove, largely thanks to the knob-twiddling genius of producer Stuart Price (nee Les Rhythms Digitales and Jacques Le Cont). Despite faltering during the latter third (“Isaac” just blows the whole way ’round), the world feels a little more balanced knowing Madonna’s back on her game.

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