Madness – Wonderful (1999)

1999: in retrospect a happier, more innocent time. There were still decent shows on the telly and England used to go out of World Cups to good teams like Argentina. There was optimism about the new millennium and no one new how shite The Matrix sequels would be. Meanwhile I was 14, and bought the single ‘Lovestruck’ by Madness. On cassette (remember them, kids?). I remember playing it while playing Playstation Games (probably Premier Manager 99, in which the players’ avatar resembles the kind of person who looks as if they should be on a register). Terrific single. For some reason it took me an entire 15 years (*choke*) to buy the it’s parent album, Wonderful. Turns out this was 15 years (*choke*) without this sensational, life affirming album in my collection.

Wonderful‘s main strength is consistency, most pop albums have a handful of good songs, bulked up with filler. This has track after track of utterly brilliant pop songs. The quality just goes on and on, it’s staggering, no second half dip, in fact it actually gets better the longer it goes on. The one criticism I have is that ‘The Communicator’ sounds a little too like ‘Sugar Sugar’  for comfort. That’s the one nit I have to pick.

I made a brief attempt to go through the album track by track. problem is, every entry would read ‘awesome pop song’. The problem is that this album is not for listening to with an academic ear and analysing deeply. It’s fun. This is an album to get people dancing to during a night on the lash. Sitting down to the listen to it feels wrong, if not plain offensive. Even picking a handful of standout’s is a tricky proposition. ‘Lovestruck’ is of course a killer single. ‘Drip Fed Freddy’ is worth hearing for the collaboration with Ian Drury, weaving a tale of cockney ne’er do well’s. The final four tracks from ‘Elysium’ through to closer ‘No Money’ are stunning, just stunning. The song writing and production is first-rate and Sugg’s vocals are perfect.

Energetic, fun, heartfelt and simply, wonderful.

Nothing deep, nothing to make you reconsider your life. Just an album to make you party like it’s 1999. Again.

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