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Madness – "Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da"

It was legitimate to assume that, for Madness, 2012 had peaked already, what with playing the ageless Our House first on the roof of Buckingham Palace (“in the middle of One’s street”) for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee then at the closing ceremony of the Olympics. Their annual Christmas jaunt – which this year features a four-day House of Fun weekend at Butlins, no less – was meant to provide the usual chirpy coda to the calendar year, and that was that.

Lo and behold, the Magnificent 7 (or 6½, given bassist Bedders’ ‘uncertain’ status) are back with a brand new studio long-player – their 10th in all and ninth of original material.

Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da, like its predecessor, The Liberty of Norton Folgate, finds Madness effortlessly combining achingly beautiful melodies (LeonSmall World) with bittersweet lyrics, the band thankfully avoiding the temptation to fit into their party clothes from 30 years ago.

The ‘fun’ grooves of yore have not been jettisoned, however. My Girl 2 sees keyboardist Mike Barson revisit a theme first breached on their debut album, while Misery, musically, sits between Madness and Taller Than You Are

Incongruously, Never Knew Your Name, the tale of a missed ‘opportunity’ in a nightclub, offers the album its most danceable moment thanks to an unabashed disco groove laden with Barry White-type strings. Oui oui sir, they can boogie as well.

(Cooking Vinyl / V2)