Madness: Can’t Touch Us Now review – ska-pop legends as entertaining as ever

(UMC)

Despite the departure of original member Cathal “Chas Smash” Smyth, the elements that made Madness one of the most beloved bands of the early 1980s are intact on Can’t Touch Us Now, their first album for four years. There’s plinky-plonky piano (the title track), cartoonish sound effects (gunshots on Grandslam) and a nod to their ska roots (Mumbo Jumbo). We have singalong choruses galore – Another Version of Me even has a singalong chorus that, like their biggest hits Our House and House of Fun, has the word “house” in it. On Pam the Hawk, Graham “Suggs” McPherson cements his status as one of the great London lyricists. There are unexpected moments, too – if not any actual surprises – such as the soulful coda on You Are My Everything. The Nutty Boys (Nutty Grandfathers?) have done little to dispel the 1982 vibes: Can’t Touch Us Now was recorded at east London’s vintage-fitted studio Toe Rag, and co-produced by its owner, Liam Watson, and Clive Langer, who played a key role in crafting many of Madness’s 80s hits.

Contributor

Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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