Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie (BMG)
Madness have found time between their summer festival gigging for their 17th album, aiming higher than their well-earned place in the pocket as a British institution. Happily, this carries the concept-album thread from 2009’s excellent The Liberty Of Norton Folgate, with actor Martin Freeman providing dramatic atmosphere through narration, yet the tone is much more nervous. Suggs “takes a dive in the sludge” of today’s national identity on What On Earth Is It (You Take Me For?): a literal plea to political bigmouths on television, taken down with all the trademark Madness jankiness.
The result is an arresting album full of tension and mystique, impressively updating their kitchen-sink drama appeal into a further-fractured world: “Your destiny’s about to call”. Furthermore, the moody stank of Lockdown And Frack Off pushes deeper into our psychological core with an angsty synth-line – “Get ready to snitch!” They’ve summed up our ways of life very well yet again.
words BILLY EDWARDS