If Madonna were half the intellectual she colors (sorry, colours) herself as, she'd be embarrassed by her own lyrics. The cliché-ridden, pretentious Confessions on a Dance Floor attempts to transplant Madonna's inner life onto a spinning platform under a disco ball. But a loud club, after all, is a terrible place for a soul-bearing diatribe, and it unsurprisingly comes across as vacant. But even as mindless dance music, Confessions fails. Producer Stuart Price, who's proven himself capable of genius, feels either confined to a clanking trancelike aesthetic or is hopelessly adrift amid samples of the Jackson 5 and, most offensively, Donna Summer's perfect "I Feel Love." But ultimately the blame squarely rests on Madonna's shoulders; her icy, taskmistress persona is her downfall. All over the tuneless Confessions, she sounds bored, even when talking about the potentially fascinating (though nauseatingly indulgent) subject of her fame. This is what electroclash warned us about: You can dance for the pretension, but God, why would you want to?

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Rich Juzwiak