Hard Candy, Madonna

2nd May 2008 at 01:00
Music - Arms like the last spare rib in an Asda barbecue multi-pack, Pat Butcher outfits, the air of strained sex appeal

Arms like the last spare rib in an Asda barbecue multi-pack, Pat Butcher outfits, the air of strained sex appeal. Tell me: when did Madonna start resembling a blonde Nancy Dell'Olio?

Yes, lest there be any doubt that the blank-faced disco bunny has finally lost her magic (and let's face it, she lost it round about 1994's Bedtime Stories, and everyone has since been too embarrassed to tell her - it would be cruel, like booing your mum at karaoke), her new album, Hard Candy, should put paid to it.

It is classic post-Nineties Madonna. Lazy vocals, tinny electro bashed out by some slightly bored super-producer with an expensive haircut to fund, and the sort of onscreen sexual gymnastics (witness the cringe-worthy video for "4 Minutes" in which she struts and gurns around a slightly frightened-looking Justin Timberlake) that puts you in mind of a dysfunctional toddler wandering into their parents' cocktail party and pulling their skirt up in a desperate bid for attention.

That's not to say the likes of "4 Minutes", "Beat Goes On" and "Dance Tonight", don't have a superficial glaze of funkiness (thanks to collaborations with the uber-trendy Timbaland and Pharrell Williams), just that they never sound better than a filler track on a Nelly Furtado album. "Sticky sweet, and plenty to eat," promises the promo on YouTube. But sadly this is one stick of candy that looks better than it tastes.

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