THEATRE OF THE ABSURD PRESENTS C’EST LA VIE
It has been far too long since there has been a new studio album from Madness. Their last album, the wonderful Can’t Touch Us Now, was released over six years ago in 2016. That album marked the return of bassist Mark Bedford, and the departure of vocalist Chas Smash (Cathal Smyth). For Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie Madness remains a six piece band. Besides Bedford, the band still consists of lead vocalist Graham “Suggs” McPherson, keyboardist Mike Barson, guitarist Chris Foreman, drummer Dan Woodgate and saxophonist Lee Thompson. The good news is that Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie is well worth the wait. This is quite possibly their best and strongest album.
Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie marks the first time that Madness has produced themselves, and the end result is absolutely brilliant. Martin Freeman (Breeders) provides the spoken word narrative throughout the album, which is broken into three parts and an epilogue. It opens with Freeman introducing the album, which leads into the psychedelic and Beatlesque “Theatre Of The Absurd”. From there, it simply takes off.
Madness has crafted some very perfect pop/rock songs. Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie Madness focuses on incredibly melodic songs with stunning arrangements. ” Beginners 101” is one of the most sentimental and beautiful songs they have ever written. It is beautifully arranged, and it certainly tugs at the heartstrings. The song is somewhat self-reflective of the band and their career. It is sublime. “We was having fun, a little hit and run. One for all and all for one, and finish what we begun”, Suggs sings, and with the perfect musical arrangement, it is a work of art.
They also dabble with some very creative and experimental sounds. “Run For Your Life”, for example, uses vocals and interesting rhythm structures effectively. It also tips its hat to Pink Floyd’s “Run For Your Life” (which is interesting as there is also a tip to Pink Floyd with the song title “Is There Anybody Out There”). But that is the beauty here, it feels like an old friend the minute the album begins. One may have never heard the songs before, yet they seem warm and familiar.
Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie is a work of art that will stay on the turntable for a good long time. The songs are inviting and layered. With every spin, one gets something new and different. It is to Madness’s credit that they continue to move forward instead of just reliving the past. They also grow with their audience. This is, obviously, not an album that they expect will resonate with the under-30s market, but that is not their goal. They set out to create a stunning piece of art, and an album that requires the listener to sit and listen. Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie is magnificent.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: MADNESS – THEATRE OF THE ABSURD PRESENTS C’EST LA VIE