With their first album in a decade, the one-time Nutty Boys seek to be taken seriously. A 10-minute title
track recounts the social history of a corner of east London that is legally independent from its surroundings; clearly, we’re far from ‘Baggy Trousers’ territory. Musically, Madness still trade in pub singalongs powered by ska rhythms and music-hall jollity – but the jollity feels forced, and Suggs’ tired vocals suggest a man going through the motions. Perhaps inspiration ran dry when he realised Madness would be beaten to the comeback punch by The Specials. Either way, when the world is grappling with capitalism’s collapse, a mature Madness is too much to deal with.