Speakers Push Air

The 2009 Top 20 Albums Of The Year #15
December 16, 2009, 12:42 pm
Filed under: 2009 Top 20

The other day, I was really impressed to discover that Resonance FM has a show called Ventures & Adventures In Topography, which looks at (and walks according to) old Edwardian and Victorian London walking guides. It’s a nice idea, charmingly executed, and a concerted attempt to move away from the term “psychogeography”, it having been debased by such things as the Will Self column. I also read an interview with Will Self where he confessed that such columns are no more than “intellectual bubblewrap”, something for the brain to pop when bored. Neither boring or Edwardian, but decidedly psychogeographical, this next album is perhaps the biggest surprise of the year. (wow, how’s that for a link?)

Number 15: Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate.

The psychogeography is more Ackroyd than Sinclair, it’s true, but nonetheless Madness have pulled off something amazing here. In their 4th decade they’ve made what has to be their best album (as opposed to just a series of singles and some filler). Constructed around the astonishing title track (see below), which takes us on a dérive through London old and new, from Jay Leno to dodgy DVD sellers to lovable cockney racists, the rest of the album is all at least nearly as good (especially the single Dust Devil). Madness still get a vast amount of affection, but I don’t think anyone was expecting them to come up with something new that wasn’t just a pale imitation of their heyday this late in their on / off career. They have every right to feel utterly vindicated, and I really wish my fucked up leg hadn’t stopped me seeing them do this stuff live.

As for today’s track, as obvious as it is, it would indeed be Madness not to post the title track.

Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
(The Liberty of Norton Folgate, Yep Roc Records)

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