There’s a certain grandness to the title of Madness Presents the Rise & Fall, the group’s fourth album and undeniable pop masterpiece: it’s clear that the band has ambitions, to go several steps beyond ska, to craft nothing less than a Village Green Preservation Society for the ‘80s. The Kinks figure heavily in Madness’ design for The Rise & Fall, both in individual tunes and the overall arc of the concept album, but so does Ian Dury’s celebration of the riffraff of London, the latter giving Madness an earthiness that Ray Davies’ crew lacked during their time on the Village Green. While Madness’ forefathers are evident, The Rise & Fall is recognizably Madness in sound and sensibility; faint echoes of their breakneck nutty beginnings can be heard on “Blue Skinned Beast” and “Mr. Speaker Gets the Word,” the melodies are outgrowths of such early masterpieces as “My Girl,” there’s a charming, open-hearted humor and carnivalesque swirl that ties everything together. All this comes to a head on “Our House,” as divine a pop single as there ever was -- so undeniable that this very British anthem actually crossed over into the American Top Ten in 1983 -- but that’s merely the splashiest evidence of Madness’ popcraft on The Rise & Fall. The rest of the record contains the same wit, effervescence, and joy, capturing what British pop life was all about in 1982, just as Village Green Preservation Society did in 1968 or Blur’s Parklife would do in 1994.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine