Now in their 60s, Nutty Boys will be Nutty OAPs by the time they hit their next album. But age has not diminished their likeness or ambition.
It’s a long way from Camden’s Dublin Castle to an experimental theater site from the late 1950s and yet there’s nothing in sight about the 13th record total.
The eerie title track C’est La Vie echoes the old Madness bounce, sounding fresh, jaunty and catchy, while keyboardist Mike Barson’s lyrics warn us that “we’re only minutes away” from Armageddon.
Suggsy’s catchy If I Go Mad uses Dexys-style horns over a thumping beat. Other songs fall back on minor key melancholy to create a lush sound.
Cad Ar Dhoman É (You Take Me For?) – written by sax player Lee ‘Kix’ Thompson and guitarist Chrissy Boy Foreman tipping his funky hat to the late Ian Dury, whom Lee admired.
Dury would certainly have approved of “You bend me like a pretzel, now I’m down on the floor” and “The ninth bell rings and it’s Pussy Galore”. Is There Anyone Out There? He delights in jazz funk: “I sell ice to Eskimos for a sack”.
Lee’s bitter teenage Baby Burglary is a believable episode.
Theater Of The Absurd brings “the cruellest cabaret, the blackest black comedy”.
The North Londoners have released concept albums before, of course. Since this one is set in a theater, the 14 songs are punctuated with short bursts of speech from actors.
A true national treasure, Madness has been part of our lives for over 43 years.
Their first two albums went platinum and two of their last three albums were Top Five. Can the 13th place and his mouth follow your matching name?
I wouldn’t bet against it.
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