SKA-POP LEG­ENDS IN FINE FORM ON TWELFTH OUT­ING

Hot Press - - Albums - Out Now // Sam Steiger

While still re­tain­ing traces of the ska in­flu­ences that ini­tially pro­pelled them into the charts in the ’80s, Mad­ness have long since evolved into ex­em­plars of a pe­cu­liarly English tra­di­tion of song­writ­ing, typ­i­fied by iconic bands like The Kinks and The Bea­tles.

Their twelfth al­bum Can’t Touch Us Now con­tin­ues the tra­di­tion, with wryly-ob­served sketches borne of life’s hard ex­pe­ri­ence. Recorded un­der the watch­ful eyes of long-time col­lab­o­ra­tor Clive Langer and Liam Wat­son at Toe Rag Stu­dios, the band turn in 16 tune­ful tracks of trade­mark plinky-plonk piano and rasp­ing sax­o­phone.

As Suggs strolls the streets of Cam­den, his gim­let-eye takes in the heroes and vil­lains on every cor­ner. There’s the prig­gish ’Mr Ap­ples’, furtively winging his way down the street – up to no good but sanc­ti­mo­niously crit­i­cal of any­one else who might be.

Later on in Soho – who’s this tot­ter­ing through the pud­dles in pen­cil-skirt, stiletto heels and mas­cara’d eyes with “just a peek of pink La Perla bra”? It’s Amy Wine­house on a date with des­tiny. Or there, duck­ing out of the book­ies, it’s ‘Pam The Hawk’ rip­ping up an­other failed bet­ting slip: “She’d be the rich­est woman in all of the West End/ If every single penny earned she didn’t spend.” If you want to know more you’ll have to buy the al­bum. Do it – after all, we all need a bit of Mad­ness in our lives.

MAD­NESS

Can’t Touch Us Now

UMC

‘Black­bird’

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