I've listened to the whole album thrice now and can report that it leaves a lot to be desired. If you can buy into Madonna still being a girl at 53, then the best song is "Girl Gone Wild". It was a hopeful track to release after that Super Bowl single travesty. I liked it and hoped the album would be just as good.
It's not. MDNA should stand for Madonna Delivers Noise Again.
Let's discuss. In "I'm a Sinner", Madge conjures up all the Saints in Catholocism. Don't take my word for it, here are some of the lyrics: ♫ Saint Christopher found my way / I'll be coming home Monday / Saint Sebastian don't you cry / Let those poisoned arrows fly.
Madonna practically disappears on tracks like "Gang Bang". Very Britney a la Blackout. In other songs, you wish she'd disappear. Tracks like like "B-Day Song" are just plain annoying. This isn't entirely her fault, though. She's aided considerably in the annoying department here by M.I.A. And don't even get me started on what the hell Nicki Minaj is doing on this album!
MDNA is not a total trainwreck. If you're willing to waddle through the muck, I'd like to direct your short attention spans to "I'm Addicted" and "Some Girls". They're my favorite tracks, if only because they're the most gay dance-friendly. "Masterpiece", the Golden Globe-winning song from her film W.E. is also included here and it's beautiful. Madonna has always done ballads very well.
These aside, there's not much in the way of groundbreakage.
Randall Roberts of Pop & Hiss generally agrees:
"The Madonna of today has lost the art of surprise, and the shock and awe she used to inspire with each new move have gone the way of her bullet bra and taffeta skirts. More important, Madge seems to have lost her ability to create in that magical space that pushes pop forward while remaining completely of the moment.
The music here is certainly not disarming, and while it’s dangerous to speculate on the listening habits of artists, MDNA more than anything sounds like an album made by someone who’s lost touch with the desires of today’s popular music while pursuing other endeavors, including child-rearing and moviemaking.
The album offers evidence that the singer has fallen behind, that she is no longer setting the conversation in a genre she essentially invented — blending Top 40 pop with club music. While Madonna keeps banging away, the template she helped build is ruling the charts via the work of Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Kesha, each of whom not only sings about club life but also lives it, thus delivering more convincing fantasies.
On Madonna’s best albums — Like a Virgin, Ray of Light and Music — she lived in that pocket between pop’s present and future, and with each hit single she offered a dose of the new that confirmed her ability to seduce us. But the enemy of seduction is familiarity. The power to jar a lover requires the element of surprise, one that’s sorely lacking on MDNA. We’re 30 years into this relationship, after all. Surprising us at this point would require a drastic new approach, one that Madge seems unable to muster this time around."