Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Our House"

Don't think I've written about Madness before. If there ever was a musical Poet Laureate of Eastenders, then these guys would collectively have the job for life. I can't normally pick any single song of theirs that stands above the rest; each one is so perfectly-observed, with the joy coming from the detail and the emotion that shines out from both the lyric and the relentlessly optimistic, jaunty music. This particular song wins for me for just a couple of things: the harmony bursts of "aaah" that come right after the lines "Sister's sighing in her sleep" and "Sees them off with a small kiss", and the jerky, bass-led instrumental break half-way through, not to mention the sheer violence of the opening bass slap. And of course the subject matter is something that eases beneath our skin and brings the kind of warm nostalgia that is like a drug sometimes.
Madness were cheeky but cuddly; Squeeze were cheeky and knowing. Grannies could love Madness, but they'd always be made uncomfortable by the dark underbelly of Squeeze's stories, even though the musicianship was equally catchy in both bands. There's been a great tradition of taut, danceable music since the new wave spread across the land: the Blockheads, Pigbag, Squeeze, then Madness.

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