Madness: Keep Moving (1983)
But 1983's Keep Moving, their fifth LP, got some good press, and I gave them another shot. I ended up liking it a lot more than what had come before. The ska was largely left behind, the band instead pursuing a more sophisticated pop sound (an early precursor to the Britpop of the 90s), like a more baroque version of the Jam or Squeeze. I can't say I've spent a lot of time with it over the years, but I do enjoy it from time to time.
The clear stand-out is "Michael Caine," an uncharacteristically infectious tune, a sample of the actor's voice joining a devastatingly captivating chorus. Nothing else made quite the same impression, but there were some high points. The other single, "Wings of a Dove" (included only on the US pressing), was charming enough, a little silly but good fun back in the day; while "The Sun & The Rain" (another single also included only on the US version) blends their earlier dance beat sound with a whiff of Ray Davies' very British quaintness. Elsewhere, the title track had a nice little R&B vibe, shades of "On Broadway," while "Brand New Beat" had an affecting, playful charm.
The band broke up soon afterwards; they later regrouped, and while subsequent albums didn't get much attention (at least here in the US), I eventually circled back to them at some point and found them to retain a lot of Keep Moving's charm, much more Britpop than ska.
Here's the "Michael Caine" video: