Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • UMe 

Saturday, January 07, 2017 10:00 pm

Freshcut

‘Can’t Touch Us Now’ Madness

"Can’t Touch Us Now" is an invitation into the Madness carnival of sounds, brimming with intriguing, colorful characters.

One of the most British of bands and some energetic concert performers, Madness brings the goods in familiarly entertaining fashion, sustaining the strong resurgence on its third album since 2009.

The band is deft in a wide array of styles and rhythms, blending pop, soul and reggae. The lyrics carry plenty of whimsy and nostalgia and if the tunes drag a bit here and there, there’s enough energy to feed the festivities.

Songwriting duties of the 16 tracks are spread out among the band, now a sextet after the departure of Chas Smash.

Lead singer Suggs contributes touching portraits of Amy Winehouse ("the voice of fallen angels") on "Blackbird" and of a legendary West End homeless woman on "Pam The Hawk."

The album’s first single was "Mr. Apples," a less sympathetic but wholly believable depiction of a wholesome citizen by day who spends his nights on the wrong side of town.

Dressed in top hats and dark capes, "older and gray" they may be, as the slightly lunatic "Soul Denying" describes, but Madness can still be counted on to please. On "Mumbo Jumbo" they even dust off the old ska rhythms.

– Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press