With Confessions on a Dance Floor, Madonna makes progress in returning to form after the preachy, pale American Life, but this seamless, beat-filled ode to dance clubs isn't enough to restore her pop relevance. These are the sounds of 1998, halfway between the Chemical Brothers and Stardust, and on "Sorry," Madonna explains why this stuff is danceable: "I've heard it all before." The biggest problem, then, isn't the dance side but the pop side: Madonna's personality, which turned previous techno thumpers like "Ray of Light" and "Music" into all-out hits, has been muted on these dance cuts; she sounds like any other generic singer slapped onto a DJ track. "New York"'s attempt at dancey, NYC-related camp is a lazy rip-off of Prince's "All the Critics Love U in New York," and worse, it sees Madonna subscribing to the Rivers Cuomo school of writing lyrics: "If you don't like my attitude, then you can eff off/Just go to Texas, isn't that where they golf?" Wow. That almost makes us want to hear Madonna sing about the Kabbalah again.