Review: Madness – The Rise & Fall

By long player number four, Madness were still following their album a year form. Somehow between the constant grind of touring and promotion, they managed to find time to record their most adventurous outing yet. Originally conceived as a concept album based on the band members’ childhood, ‘The Rise & Fall’ presented a bleak document of bittersweet nostalgia.

The highlights, as with previous albums, include the singles. Strange though, that ‘Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)’ was such a success given that its consistently depressing lyrics (“It’s down and down there is no up”) were based on Chas Smash’s experiences behind bars. Then of course there’s ‘Our House’. It’s a testament to the enduring quality of the song that it still retains its charm after the countless times it’s been played on commercial radio. Amongst other tracks, ‘Primrose Hill’ features the prettiest of piano melodies and a brass band segment. Meanwhile, ‘Blue Skinned Beast’ attacks Thatcher’s handling of The Falklands War and ‘New Delhi’ takes on Eastern influences before it became fashionable.

‘The Rise & Fall’ is arguably Madness at their most articulate yet but falls a few songs short of its predecessor’s consistent excellence. That said, Madness deserve great credit for experimenting with their sound when they could have sold records by the bucketload, by sticking to their tried and tested Ska formula.

Web Sites:
Madness Official Site
Madness MySpace

Further Listening:
Blur, The Kinks

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