after the worldwide smash that was 'music',madonna chose to go in a different direction with 'american life'. interesting,considering both albums were co-produced by mirwais,the french studio wizard who reminds one of other big french acts such as daft punk and cassius. 'american life' goes in a darker,more personal direction than 'music',and it's all the better for it. where 'music' seemed to creatively and sonically jump around from sci-fi funk to vocodered retro pop to cowgirl dance ditties with varying degrees of success,'american life' is thoroughly consistent while still offering a variety of sounds and textures. the best here to me is the southern fried electro rock of 'i'm so stupid',the funky and futuristic 'nobody knows me' and the pure acoustic pop of 'hollywood'.
thematically 'american life' is strong,with madonna ruminating melodically on the perils of fame. oftentimes the album can be very dark,such as on 'mother and father',a song about the death of madonna's mother and madonna's resolution to give up her pain and finally move on with her life.
if you like intelligent pop then this is the album for you. if,however,you're wanting feel-good upbeat dance ditties about nothing in paticular then you should look elsewhere. the bottom line is this may not be madonna's best,but it certainly isn't bad in any way.