Madness - Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da (Cover Artwork)


Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da (2012)

Lucky 7 Records

The Nutty Boys are back again. The prolific Two-Tone band Madness return with their unique brand of ska with elements of soul, AM pop, R&B and mod they've mastered to blend together in a tight little package since their 1979 debut, One Step Beyond. Their 10th studio album, Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da is a perfect example of the band's ability to mix a wide array of styles held together by ska and reggae rhythms.

The first track, (a sequel to the band's early hit, "My Gir,l" on One Step Beyond) simply titled "My Girl II," kicks off the album with a Northern soul beat that would release anyone's inner-mod to start dancing, (the alternate version at the end of the album is worth mentioning too). Another highlight is "Never Knew Your Name." The second track has the band delving into new territory, dance-pop/disco; the song is about the nostalgic look at a romances that never came to be. It is a perfect example of Madness' songwriting abilities, the lyrics and music are crafted in such a way to paint a perfect visual image to transport the listener right in the middle of the story.

Aside from their signature abilities of blending ska with other styles, there's even some full-fledged ska on the album that strict "early" Madness fans would surely enjoy; the Prince Buster-esque "Misery" and the uplifting "So Alive" skank along with traditional '60s ska beats.

Of course, what would a Madness album be without a few rocksteady and reggae numbers? The jazzy "Kitchen Floor," the mariachi-fueled "La Luna" and an ode to the skinheads, "Death of a Rudeboy," give the album its groove.

The album does have its share of weak tracks; "Small World" and "Circus Freaks" are two songs that boost off to a good start but never really go anywhere interesting or, for that matter, manage to produce a hook. From Chris Foreman's bouncy upstrokes to Mike Barson's beautiful keyboard playing, it's obvious these guys have been playing for years and they sound tighter than ever. And it goes without saying, that Suggs' charismatic vocals never fail to give every Madness song it's witty charm, so it's difficult to consider any of the songs "weak," though some are just not able to hit a mark.

Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da isn't a perfect Madness album, but it is indeed a solid and fun listen, they aren't trying anything new, but they're surely doing what they do best. Their previous (and spectacular) album, The Liberty of Norton Folgate, was loaded with high concepts and historical references; Oui Oui finds Madness going back to basics with a fun collection of songs that don't fail to please, and as their old slogan used to preach, "Fuck Art, Let's Dance."