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Guardian review is online. 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jun/04/madonna-madame-x-review-her-most-bizarre-album-ever

 

Madonna: Madame X review – her most bizarre album ever

4 out of 5 stars.

(Live Nation/Interscope/Maverick)

The lows, featuring white-saviour narratives and witless lyrics, are really low. But by embracing Latin pop, Madonna sounds more natural than she has in years.

 

We all get old, but never at the same age. Some of us are old when we’re children, bringing briefcases to school and talking to adults at family parties; others leave uni with the thrill that they never have to go clubbing again. Most of us think we’re doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in a Boden catalogue and suddenly death is real.

For years, Madonna outpaced all of this. In 1996, Evita looked like ushering in her middle age, but she did an about turn, delivering convincing, idiosyncratic trip-hop on Ray of Light (1998) and convincing, idiosyncratic electro on Music (2000). Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house a way for her to stay out past 4am with dignity, rather than trying to score ketamine off teenage fashion influencers at the afters, musically speaking.

But she couldn’t run forever. Perhaps it began pre-Confessions, when she kissed Britney Spears as if to parasitically extract her youth. Certainly by Hard Candy in 2008 she was playing catch-up, spurring Timbaland and the Neptunes to some of their tamest work, a good five years after their pomp. MDNA (2012) tried to keep pace with stadium EDM, while Rebel Heart (2015) struggled to get its head around a newly global, musically cosmopolitan pop market, and just randomly glued hip collaborators together. The woman who had once led was following, and sluggishly.

To her credit, she has not done what many in her position would then do: lick their wounds and sell a jazz standards album to Radio 2 listeners. With Madame X, Madonna instead grits her teeth, puts on a glitter-encrusted eyepatch, looks in the mirror with seriously reduced depth perception and says: “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” And by drawing on the Latin influence of not just reggaeton-crazed recent pop but also her new home base of Lisbon, she has, at 60, produced her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since Confessions.

It’s also one of her most bizarre and sprawling, and features some of her worst ever music. Killers Who Are Playing finds this American multimillionaire – already not shy of white saviourhood – play empath to the world’s huddled masses: “I’ll be Africa if Africa is shut down. I will be poor if the poor are humiliated. I’ll be a child if the children are exploited …” We pause for presumably more of the same, this time in Portuguese, and then: “I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated. I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated. I’ll be Native Indian if the Indian has been taken. I’ll be a woman if she’s raped and her heart is breaking.” It’s well intended but fails to read the room – the room here being the entire planet.

The dog’s dinner of Dark Ballet, aired in part at Eurovision, features vocodered vocals sung to a melody from the Nutcracker, and irritatingly gnomic pronouncements about commerce blinding us to reality. Extreme Occident, only available on the deluxe version for a very good reason, sees Madonna trying to “recover my centre of gravity” in a politically polarised world – a really worthwhile topic, but expressed in witless lyrics. “I guess I’m lost / I had to pay the cost / The thing that hurt me most …” (at this point you’re ready to bet your house on the final line being about a ghost, but no) “… Was that I wasn’t lost.” Tablas arrive with stupid kneejerk exoticism. It ends with her asserting “life is a circle” about 20 times.

These shockers are suitable only for schadenfreude lovers or scholars of extreme camp, but another of these wildly messy tracks actually matches its vaulting ambition. God Control was presumably made after an all-nighter on Reddit – a rambling “Wake up sheeple!” screed that confronts gun reform, disenfranchised youth, democracy and the man upstairs. One section has her rap “Each new birthday gives me hope / that’s why I don’t smoke that dope”, and that her only friend is her brain – all with the peppy naivety of Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. And all of it set to hi-NRG disco with cascading strings and Daft Punk vocoders, for over six minutes. It is – only just – brilliant, and will become an equally beloved and despised curio among fans.

All this baroque weirdness knocks the album off its axis, but most of its 64 minutes are actually full of very decent pop songcraft. Future is her go at pop’s next big trend, roots reggae, and while there is a slight, perhaps unconscious but audible white-person Jamaican accent, it is catchy and full-bodied, producer Diplo shamelessly ripping off the brass from Outkast’s SpottieOttieDopaliscious. She returns to Deeper and Deeper-style house on I Don’t Search I Find, its strings and fingerclicks a clear nod to Vogue. Crazy is beautiful and brilliantly catchy, a midtempo soul ballad that you could imagine Ariana Grande singing, but which has clever detailing like an accordion that has surely been influenced by Lisbon’s fado scene. The most emphatically Latin tracks are all strong, particularly Faz Gostoso with Brazilian superstar Anitta, whose frenetic beat is somewhere between baile funk and Angolan kuduro – another Lisbon-influenced rhythm that also flits through the polyrhythmic Come Alive. Bitch I’m Loco, the second track to feature Colombian star Maluma after lead single Medellín, is reggaeton roughage, but will be satisfying enough booming out of a club system. Perhaps there isn’t an absolutely diamond pop chorus on Madame X, but the singles I Rise, Crave, and Medellín all have elegant, sinewy melodies that twine around you rather than jabbing you into submission.

Throughout, there is more density and musical adventure than at almost any other point in her career (perhaps this is the influence of Mirwais, who produces numerous tracks here and gave Music its fiendish intricacy). Her voice is remarkably plastic, pitched down one minute and up the next, into a Sia-like bleat and out into robotic polyphony. Often, around the seabed of the mix, is a swirl of aqueous psychedelic sound, profoundly different and much more interesting than her earlier R&B and EDM minimalism.

Killers Who Are Playing ends with the questions: “Do you know who you are? Will we know when to stop?” The untamed, batshit Madame X suggests that Madonna doesn’t have the answer to either – and that her strength is in never knowing.

Edited by Ven Conmigo
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Sounds like we are in for one hell of a ride with this album. Her creativity seems to be on peak and I’m sure there will be intense discussions here about the weirdness of it all. Can’t wait for June 14! This album will be my life’s soundtrack for the entire year, I, sure. 

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11 minutes ago, air1975 said:

Guardian review is online. 

 

Madonna: Madame X review – her most bizarre album ever

4 out of 5 stars.

    (Live Nation/Interscope/Maverick)
The lows, featuring white-saviour narratives and witless lyrics, are really low. But by embracing Latin pop, Madonna sounds more natural than she has in years.

 

We all get old, but never at the same age. Some of us are old when we’re children, bringing briefcases to school and talking to adults at family parties; others leave uni with the thrill that they never have to go clubbing again. Most of us think we’re doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in a Boden catalogue and suddenly death is real.

For years, Madonna outpaced all of this. In 1996, Evita looked like ushering in her middle age, but she did an about turn, delivering convincing, idiosyncratic trip-hop on Ray of Light (1998) and convincing, idiosyncratic electro on Music (2000). Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house a way for her to stay out past 4am with dignity, rather than trying to score ketamine off teenage fashion influencers at the afters, musically speaking.

But she couldn’t run forever. Perhaps it began pre-Confessions, when she kissed Britney Spears as if to parasitically extract her youth. Certainly by Hard Candy in 2008 she was playing catch-up, spurring Timbaland and the Neptunes to some of their tamest work, a good five years after their pomp. MDNA (2012) tried to keep pace with stadium EDM, while Rebel Heart (2015) struggled to get its head around a newly global, musically cosmopolitan pop market, and just randomly glued hip collaborators together. The woman who had once led was following, and sluggishly.

To her credit, she has not done what many in her position would then do: lick their wounds and sell a jazz standards album to Radio 2 listeners. With Madame X, Madonna instead grits her teeth, puts on a glitter-encrusted eyepatch, looks in the mirror with seriously reduced depth perception and says: “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” And by drawing on the Latin influence of not just reggaeton-crazed recent pop but also her new home base of Lisbon, she has, at 60, produced her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since Confessions.

It’s also one of her most bizarre and sprawling, and features some of her worst ever music. Killers Who Are Playing finds this American multimillionaire – already not shy of white saviourhood – play empath to the world’s huddled masses: “I’ll be Africa if Africa is shut down. I will be poor if the poor are humiliated. I’ll be a child if the children are exploited …” We pause for presumably more of the same, this time in Portuguese, and then: “I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated. I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated. I’ll be Native Indian if the Indian has been taken. I’ll be a woman if she’s raped and her heart is breaking.” It’s well intended but fails to read the room – the room here being the entire planet.

The dog’s dinner of Dark Ballet, aired in part at Eurovision, features vocodered vocals sung to a melody from the Nutcracker, and irritatingly gnomic pronouncements about commerce blinding us to reality. Extreme Occident, only available on the deluxe version for a very good reason, sees Madonna trying to “recover my centre of gravity” in a politically polarised world – a really worthwhile topic, but expressed in witless lyrics. “I guess I’m lost / I had to pay the cost / The thing that hurt me most …” (at this point you’re ready to bet your house on the final line being about a ghost, but no) “… Was that I wasn’t lost.” Tablas arrive with stupid kneejerk exoticism. It ends with her asserting “life is a circle” about 20 times.

These shockers are suitable only for schadenfreude lovers or scholars of extreme camp, but another of these wildly messy tracks actually matches its vaulting ambition. God Control was presumably made after an all-nighter on Reddit – a rambling “Wake up sheeple!” screed that confronts gun reform, disenfranchised youth, democracy and the man upstairs. One section has her rap “Each new birthday gives me hope / that’s why I don’t smoke that dope”, and that her only friend is her brain – all with the peppy naivety of Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. And all of it set to hi-NRG disco with cascading strings and Daft Punk vocoders, for over six minutes. It is – only just – brilliant, and will become an equally beloved and despised curio among fans.

All this baroque weirdness knocks the album off its axis, but most of its 64 minutes are actually full of very decent pop songcraft. Future is her go at pop’s next big trend, roots reggae, and while there is a slight, perhaps unconscious but audible white-person Jamaican accent, it is catchy and full-bodied, producer Diplo shamelessly ripping off the brass from Outkast’s SpottieOttieDopaliscious. She returns to Deeper and Deeper-style house on I Don’t Search I Find, its strings and fingerclicks a clear nod to Vogue. Crazy is beautiful and brilliantly catchy, a midtempo soul ballad that you could imagine Ariana Grande singing, but which has clever detailing like an accordion that has surely been influenced by Lisbon’s fado scene. The most emphatically Latin tracks are all strong, particularly Faz Gostoso with Brazilian superstar Anitta, whose frenetic beat is somewhere between baile funk and Angolan kuduro – another Lisbon-influenced rhythm that also flits through the polyrhythmic Come Alive. Bitch I’m Loco, the second track to feature Colombian star Maluma after lead single Medellín, is reggaeton roughage, but will be satisfying enough booming out of a club system. Perhaps there isn’t an absolutely diamond pop chorus on Madame X, but the singles I Rise, Crave, and Medellín all have elegant, sinewy melodies that twine around you rather than jabbing you into submission.

Throughout, there is more density and musical adventure than at almost any other point in her career (perhaps this is the influence of Mirwais, who produces numerous tracks here and gave Music its fiendish intricacy). Her voice is remarkably plastic, pitched down one minute and up the next, into a Sia-like bleat and out into robotic polyphony. Often, around the seabed of the mix, is a swirl of aqueous psychedelic sound, profoundly different and much more interesting than her earlier R&B and EDM minimalism.

Killers Who Are Playing ends with the questions: “Do you know who you are? Will we know when to stop?” The untamed, batshit Madame X suggests that Madonna doesn’t have the answer to either – and that her strength is in never knowing.

I have never seen a more pretentious, bizarre and schizophrenic review.

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Just now, FeTuoni said:

I have never seen a more pretentious, bizarre and schizophrenic review.

I know right?? It's praising Madonna but then giving bad reviews of most songs we haven't heart O_o

I'm left being like "sure Jan" when they're talking shit, rolling my eyes, and then being thrown off by the big praise that follows.

Also, they can't even get the song titles write... Killers who are playing? Bitch, I'm Loco? What xD

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what a cunt, basically giving all credit to people madonna is working with, such as Mirwais, yet then at the same time dragging the creativity and preferring the more commercial songs.. all the while giving it a high rating.

and about the other review, even though it's really good.. I can't take anyone seriously as a music critic when they refuse to acknowledge her songwriting and her unbelievable track record as a dancer. unfortunately, that's many of them..

anyway, Im very excited. Madonna gave us a truly weird album and I cant wait to hear it.. dark ballet should give us a good indication

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Feels like they don’t want to praise Madonna too much because bitch, she’s Madonna, she’s too well-known and her name means popular music... but at the same time the album is really bold, creative, edgy and yes, really good.

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thanks for all these reviews.

I do not let myself be influenced by criticism (film or music), but there are many people who do it.

it seems that this is going to be a very different album, which I celebrate. 

I can not wait ..

 

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4 minutes ago, JohnnyUtah said:

Feels like they don’t want to praise Madonna too much because bitch, she’s Madonna, she’s too well-known and her name means popular music... but at the same time the album is really bold, creative, edgy and yes, really good.

true!

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That's actually a great review from the guardian as the journalists are some of the most up themselves, pretentious idiots around and do anything to out her down.

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Fuck! That guardian review. He absolutely despises her and goes in for the fucking kill, doesn't he? It says a lot when, after tearing her to shreds he has no option but to give 4 stars because the album is that good. Testament to the treat we are about to be served.

He has had no other option but to bend the knee, here.

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I loved the review. I prefer this: pointing out the weak according to him parts and giving it a 4 rather than praising it and giving it 3 like rs cunts did. Obviously he loved it even though he had some reservations.

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6 minutes ago, elijah said:

I loved the review. I prefer this: pointing out the weak according to him parts and giving it a 4 rather than praising it and giving it 3 like rs cunts did. Obviously he loved it even though he had some reservations.

Ok, Im trying to see the positive side.. RH got 3 stars from the guardian, so let's hope the higher rating continues

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On 6/2/2019 at 1:42 PM, Humberto77rj said:

I just read this from a Brazilian newspaper:

"The only issue with Madonna is that she dared to age in front of the world.

She did not die like Michael Jackson, or left the Spotlight to live only as a recording artist, not a touring one. She doesn't live solely by greatest hits like Cindy Lauper or Elton Jhon. She is living as a woman creating and making new music, wether you want it or not."

 

Seriously...Madame X NEEDS to come to Brazil/South America.

Which paper said this? It’s the most spot-on opinion about Madonna that I’ve read recently.

Please link to the article, if you can.

Thank you

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Really interesting reviews. They hate to love Madonna and it shows. But in the end they give high rates and clap at the audacity and experimental side "while others send jazz standards" :chuckle:

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8 minutes ago, Monsieur X said:

Oh wow, even The Guardian likes it?

 

The would hate it if they could, but they can't, because the album is that good. As @stevo208 said: "They had to bend the knee."

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I did appreciate the "lick their wounds and deliver a jazz standards album to radio 2" line though. Gaga? Kylie?

 

These reviews do all have a strange tone - begrudgingly admitting the album is good. It definitely sounds like it is full of some indulgent moments, and some lyrics that are on the weaker side, but at least they are her words and she is trying to say something that is ultimately positive. Who else in pop music is doing that at the age of 60. Who has ever done that in pop music at the age of 60? 

 

The white saviour line is a bit unfair i think, but i can imagine how the casual listener does perceive her like that, given some of the things she says and does, and particularly given how vacuous everyone in the pop market is nowadays.  

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I flicked through the Sun this morning  they have the review already posted but give her a mark of 5 stars which is glorious. They won't use this for Metacritic, but it shows how much this album is loved by the reviewer. 

 

Interestingly the Sun review isn't from Dan Wooton, who we know from the listening party loved it and couldn't wait to review it... so I wonder where his review will appear? He does write for the Sun, doesn't he? I'm not going mad, am I?

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4 minutes ago, Nikki said:

btw.. the mirror who called the album "bleak" gave it five stars..

Bleak just means the tone. It's not bad a bad word to use, imo. In fact described as Bleak kind of excites me. It creates a mood

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That Gaurdian review very poorly written, was it done by a student?

also were does the 'mediocre' dancer come from?? She fucking danced with Pearl Land and Alvin Ailey.

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so, the tally of reviews so far:

The Guardian: 4 stars
The Mirror: 5 stars
The Sun: 5 stars
The Times: 4 stars

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3 hours ago, air1975 said:

Guardian review is online. 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jun/04/madonna-madame-x-review-her-most-bizarre-album-ever

 

Madonna: Madame X review – her most bizarre album ever

4 out of 5 stars.

(Live Nation/Interscope/Maverick)

The lows, featuring white-saviour narratives and witless lyrics, are really low. But by embracing Latin pop, Madonna sounds more natural than she has in years.

 

We all get old, but never at the same age. Some of us are old when we’re children, bringing briefcases to school and talking to adults at family parties; others leave uni with the thrill that they never have to go clubbing again. Most of us think we’re doing pretty well, then we find ourselves nodding appreciatively at something in a Boden catalogue and suddenly death is real.

For years, Madonna outpaced all of this. In 1996, Evita looked like ushering in her middle age, but she did an about turn, delivering convincing, idiosyncratic trip-hop on Ray of Light (1998) and convincing, idiosyncratic electro on Music (2000). Confessions on a Dancefloor (2005) was even better, its Abba samples and smooth deep house a way for her to stay out past 4am with dignity, rather than trying to score ketamine off teenage fashion influencers at the afters, musically speaking.

But she couldn’t run forever. Perhaps it began pre-Confessions, when she kissed Britney Spears as if to parasitically extract her youth. Certainly by Hard Candy in 2008 she was playing catch-up, spurring Timbaland and the Neptunes to some of their tamest work, a good five years after their pomp. MDNA (2012) tried to keep pace with stadium EDM, while Rebel Heart (2015) struggled to get its head around a newly global, musically cosmopolitan pop market, and just randomly glued hip collaborators together. The woman who had once led was following, and sluggishly.

To her credit, she has not done what many in her position would then do: lick their wounds and sell a jazz standards album to Radio 2 listeners. With Madame X, Madonna instead grits her teeth, puts on a glitter-encrusted eyepatch, looks in the mirror with seriously reduced depth perception and says: “Bitch, I’m Madonna.” And by drawing on the Latin influence of not just reggaeton-crazed recent pop but also her new home base of Lisbon, she has, at 60, produced her most natural-feeling, progressive and original record since Confessions.

It’s also one of her most bizarre and sprawling, and features some of her worst ever music. Killers Who Are Playing finds this American multimillionaire – already not shy of white saviourhood – play empath to the world’s huddled masses: “I’ll be Africa if Africa is shut down. I will be poor if the poor are humiliated. I’ll be a child if the children are exploited …” We pause for presumably more of the same, this time in Portuguese, and then: “I’ll be Islam if Islam is hated. I’ll be Israel if they’re incarcerated. I’ll be Native Indian if the Indian has been taken. I’ll be a woman if she’s raped and her heart is breaking.” It’s well intended but fails to read the room – the room here being the entire planet.

The dog’s dinner of Dark Ballet, aired in part at Eurovision, features vocodered vocals sung to a melody from the Nutcracker, and irritatingly gnomic pronouncements about commerce blinding us to reality. Extreme Occident, only available on the deluxe version for a very good reason, sees Madonna trying to “recover my centre of gravity” in a politically polarised world – a really worthwhile topic, but expressed in witless lyrics. “I guess I’m lost / I had to pay the cost / The thing that hurt me most …” (at this point you’re ready to bet your house on the final line being about a ghost, but no) “… Was that I wasn’t lost.” Tablas arrive with stupid kneejerk exoticism. It ends with her asserting “life is a circle” about 20 times.

These shockers are suitable only for schadenfreude lovers or scholars of extreme camp, but another of these wildly messy tracks actually matches its vaulting ambition. God Control was presumably made after an all-nighter on Reddit – a rambling “Wake up sheeple!” screed that confronts gun reform, disenfranchised youth, democracy and the man upstairs. One section has her rap “Each new birthday gives me hope / that’s why I don’t smoke that dope”, and that her only friend is her brain – all with the peppy naivety of Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. And all of it set to hi-NRG disco with cascading strings and Daft Punk vocoders, for over six minutes. It is – only just – brilliant, and will become an equally beloved and despised curio among fans.

All this baroque weirdness knocks the album off its axis, but most of its 64 minutes are actually full of very decent pop songcraft. Future is her go at pop’s next big trend, roots reggae, and while there is a slight, perhaps unconscious but audible white-person Jamaican accent, it is catchy and full-bodied, producer Diplo shamelessly ripping off the brass from Outkast’s SpottieOttieDopaliscious. She returns to Deeper and Deeper-style house on I Don’t Search I Find, its strings and fingerclicks a clear nod to Vogue. Crazy is beautiful and brilliantly catchy, a midtempo soul ballad that you could imagine Ariana Grande singing, but which has clever detailing like an accordion that has surely been influenced by Lisbon’s fado scene. The most emphatically Latin tracks are all strong, particularly Faz Gostoso with Brazilian superstar Anitta, whose frenetic beat is somewhere between baile funk and Angolan kuduro – another Lisbon-influenced rhythm that also flits through the polyrhythmic Come Alive. Bitch I’m Loco, the second track to feature Colombian star Maluma after lead single Medellín, is reggaeton roughage, but will be satisfying enough booming out of a club system. Perhaps there isn’t an absolutely diamond pop chorus on Madame X, but the singles I Rise, Crave, and Medellín all have elegant, sinewy melodies that twine around you rather than jabbing you into submission.

Throughout, there is more density and musical adventure than at almost any other point in her career (perhaps this is the influence of Mirwais, who produces numerous tracks here and gave Music its fiendish intricacy). Her voice is remarkably plastic, pitched down one minute and up the next, into a Sia-like bleat and out into robotic polyphony. Often, around the seabed of the mix, is a swirl of aqueous psychedelic sound, profoundly different and much more interesting than her earlier R&B and EDM minimalism.

Killers Who Are Playing ends with the questions: “Do you know who you are? Will we know when to stop?” The untamed, batshit Madame X suggests that Madonna doesn’t have the answer to either – and that her strength is in never knowing. 

Killers Who Are Playing ends with the questions: “Do you know who you are? Will we know when to stop?” The untamed, batshit Madame X suggests that Madonna doesn’t have the answer to either – and that her strength is in never knowing.

OMG! The reviews are making me soooo exited about hearing the full album!!! I am soooo ready for it. They are describe amazing innovative sounds...  I love the way all of them are struggling to create a sandbox to fit this Album in.

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3 minutes ago, M-D-N-A said:

How we know it’s a 5-star from the Sun? 

Because I read the paper in Tesco this morning and it scored 5 stars 

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16 minutes ago, robster said:

so, the tally of reviews so far:

The Guardian: 4 stars
The Mirror: 5 stars
The Sun: 5 stars
The Times: 4 stars

+

Q Magazine: 4 stars

Rolling Stone Magazine: 3 stars 

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