Madness, Can’t Touch Us Now. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

There are not many bands that have the special relationship with their fans that Madness have enjoyed and continue to revel in. Even after almost 40 years, the rapport between the members of the group, their cool glance at life during the endearing decades in which they have placed their bowler hats and well manicured smiles and sometimes sarcastic roll of the eyes, and the audience, has never once wavered, so much so that as the decades have fallen away, as age has withered us, it can be suggested that to Madness, Can’t Touch Us Now, is the cherry on life’s nutty cake.

Age and reflection go hand in hand, yet Madness have made much of the ability to capture every part of their lives, every significant moment has been spoken of, sang about and placed before their fans with the engaging personality that typifies the period in which they ponder and contemplate upon. From being the teenage rebels that thrilled the anti-establishment generation to now where they still ridicule the ridiculous but do it with the surprise element that must come to us all, the prospect of middle age, the expose of young dreams thrown to the wind and coming down with the harshness of a long winter and six foot snow drifts.

There is however still much fun to be had in the snow, the ice has not yet appeared and snow angels with perfectly adjusted headwear are all the rage; Can’t Touch Us Now, not so much a command but a statement of intent, a wish to carry on and perform the music that has dominated so many lives, been the dream of many more and as each new song resonates across the decades, the smile on their lips widens a little further.

In tracks such as Mr. Apples, Another Version of Me, Don’t Leave The Past Behind You, Pam The Hawk and Soul Denying, the band defy the age and put a sharp, well appointed thumb on the end of their nose and blow the biggest raspberry possible to the past and those that said it would never last.

Can’t Touch Us Now is an album of responsibility, of care, one that might not have the incredible hits long associated with the band’s youth, of the Nutty Boys at their damnedest but one that sees reflection in age and makes sure there is still so much to bring to the fore of possible communication.

Ian D. Hall