Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da
Lucky 7 Records / Koch International
Thirty-five years is a good run for any band, even with the occasional “hiatus.” Madness led the ska/punk movement in the late ’70s, put a ton of tunes in the British Top 10, and had a few successes in the American charts as well. Their catchy tunes mixed working class joy with childhood memories, and they spun out some of the most memorable videos of the MTV era. The band returns with its 10th album and most of the band members that its had since 1978. (New bass player, wot eh?)
There’s no question that this album is a Madness album. Their same chunky ska rhythms float behind nearly every cut, and the same working class love and desperation propels the lyrics. And while the spark has dulled a bit, you can’t ignore this collection. There at least two solid cuts. “My Girl 2” updates the rocky relation the singer has with a woman who’s obviously trying to do better, and he’s just hanging in with her. “Death of a Rude Boy” is a paean to the iconic idol of the Brixton Boys; you can interpret this as funerary dirge, or a hazy look back to the good old days when Madness was in its earliest flowering. While the other cuts aren’t as compelling, they do have their moments . “How Can I Tell You” offers the line “You’ll have to swim with the molecules,” and “La Luna” presents a Latin-flavored polka of a tune that says,” Madness COULD expand their style, but why alienate their fan base?” This album does move the band forward, although they may never go One Step Beyond again.