Madness The Liberty of Norton Folgate

Madness The Liberty of Norton Folgate
Madness were never a band that feared change. From their nutty ska beginnings in the '70s to their pop-charting days in the '80s through to the recent covers record, Madness have sought evolution. Liberty delivers on that goal both musically and thematically. A concept album about a London neighbourhood home to artists and lowlifes, Liberty is smartly written, deliciously diverse and expertly executed. The band occasionally revisit their two-tone beginnings but outside of a bit of ska play here and there that's about as far as the retro sound goes. Instead, they hit us straight between the eyes with full-force reggae grooves on "Forever Young" and "Bingo," and then deliver a swirling soundtrack of massive pop songs like "We Are London," "Dust Devil" and "NW5," and pepper quirky excursions into the carnival-esque "Overture." Liberty might not be their best record but it's a damn good reminder that after 33 years, Madness have more than just a pulse; they still have a serious creative vein with plenty of ideas left to mine. (Yep Roc)