Maverick/Warner Bros. (48439-2)
Release Date: April 22, 2003
Madonna's American Life album focuses very heavily on the theme of the excesses of modern life; unfortunately, the album focuses a little too heavily on this subject, making Madonna almost as guilty of excess as those she criticizes. Probably the strongest song on the album which touches on this theme is "Hollywood" (although the ending section of, "Push the button, don't push the button, trip the station, change the channel" is rather annoying and ruins the flow of an otherwise good song). "American Life" also hits on this topic pretty hard, and appears in a slightly different version than the single edit (some profanity was added in right before the rap, but I think the profanity is more of a distraction and doesn't really add anything).
The album also suffers from a lack of diversity in the music. Three songs right in a row focus heavily on acoustic guitar ("Nothing Fails," "Intervention," and "X-Static Process"); not that the acoustic guitar sound is bad, it's just a little overused in that section of the album. And many of the songs on the album seem to get stuck in a groove and never really progress anywhere musically. Also, the song "Nobody Knows Me" sounds like a re-hash of "Impressive Instant" (from Madonna's last album, Music); both tracks use an overabundance of vocal processing throughout the whole song. It just feels that Madonna and Mirwais didn't put forth as much effort as they could have when producing this album. I was constantly having a feeling while listening to the album of having "been there, done that."
The most disturbing moment on the album is the track "Mother And Father." The song is a bit dark lyrically (Madonna sings about the loss of her mother, her feelings about it and the feelings she had toward her father), but this is one of the most uptempo numbers on the album. This dichotomy really doesn't work, in my opinion. And while it was nice to see "Die Another Day" appear on the album, it was disappointing that it was the video version; to me, this version of the song is not as strong as the single edit.
When I listened to this album, I really wanted to like it. I really did. However, the only songs that really stood out to me were "American Life," "Hollywood," "Love Profusion," "Nothing Fails," "X-Static Process," and "Die Another Day." While it's not as weak as the Erotica album, it comes pretty close. Maybe it's time for Madonna to move away from Mirwais' production and find some new blood to produce her material (or maybe bring back William Orbit, who produced quite a bit of the Ray of Light album).
(reviewed by Lesley Muir on July 31, 2003)
This is an enhanced CD that includes a weblink to a website featuring
streaming video and buddy icons
"American Life," "Hollywood," "I'm So Stupid,"
"Love Profusion," "Nobody Knows Me," "Intervention,"
and "Mother And Father" written by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzai
"Nothing Fails" written by Madonna, Guy Sigsworth, and Jem Griffiths
"X-Static Process" written by Madonna and Stuart Price
"Easy Ride" written by Madonna and Monte Pittman
All tracks produced by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzai
Additional production on "I'm So Stupid" and
"Nothing Fails" by Mark "Spike" Stent