SINGLE: Muse’s “Madness”
So, I was pretty stoked to hop on my computer today and find that Muse’s second single from their upcoming album, The 2nd Law entitled “Madness,” had dropped today. When I first listened to the track, I was somewhat unimpressed, at least with the first minute or so. The simple drum beat, reminiscent of dubstep tempo, along with the questionable and repetitive electronic wobble made me a little nervous.
To be honest, my first thought was “goddamnit, Matt Bellamy, I thought you thought the two-part “The 2nd Law” tracks were going to be the only ones influenced by dubstep” (Check out my review of “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” here. It includes a link to the song, which is not a single; the spot for first single of the album was taken by the official song of the 2012 Summer Olympics, “Survival”).
And yet, as it kept going I became more and more open to the song. The lyrics are classic Muse, and when the rest of the band comes in towards the end of the song, joining Matt’s croon, it really gains some momentum and shares in the epic quality of the majority of Muse’s repertoire.
I’m not quite sure if I absolutely love this song, but it is certainly a decent song and, for me, it blows “Survival” and “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” out of the water. It is a slower song, not quite of the quality of songs such as “Falling Away With You” (Absolution) or “Falling Down” (Showbiz), two of my favorite songs, but good nonetheless.
The lyrics aren’t particularly inventive or all that deep, but its love-ballad quality is more than reminiscent of many of the other songs that Muse has made in the years that they have been rocking the pants off of the world. With a band like Muse I don’t really mind mediocre lyrics as the way in which Bellamy delivers them and the instrumentals that accompany them more than make up for any dearth of intrigue or depth in the lyrical field. A short summary is basically that the relationship that Bellamy is singing about contains more than a little “Madness.” Essentially he claims that the fights, the struggles, and the sacrifices are more than worth it to be with his lover.
Now about the music itself? The first half of the song is mostly Bellamy singing with the wobble and the drum beat that I mentioned before. At one point there is a little bit of guitar thrown into the mix, but in a minimalistic way that fits well with the simplicity of the other sounds at that point. However, soon after the midway point, Bellamy plays a quick and Queen-esque solo, which, upon its conclusion, cues the rest of the band to join in with slightly more intricate drumming and backing vocals. The real high point of the song is when Bellamy sings “I have finally realized I need to love (I need to love).” He hits his notes with some strain, as is characteristic of most of his vocal work, but it sounds great.
Following this epic and climactic moment is the equivalent of a story’s denouement, or resolution. Bellamy sings, much like Bono of U2, in my opinion, “Capture me,/Trust in your dream,/Come on and rescue me./Yes, I know, I can’t move on,/Baby, you’re too head-strong./Our love is madness.” Throughout the song he voices his complaints with the difficulties and the problems that he faced either with or due to his lover. At this moment the song takes the intense moment of Bellamy’s explosion of “I need to love” and resolves it with an ending segment that deftly handles the momentum of the build and leaves me with a feeling of completion at the end of the song (something that Billy Corgan, for instance, could not seem to do on The Smashing Pumpkins’ most recent album, Oceania). It concludes quite nicely, and leaves me wanting to play it again every time thus far, although mostly just to hear the last minute rather than the song in its entirety.
Against most of the other songs that Muse has recorded, “Madness” is certainly not one that I think will stand out. However, I think that it is a great song and would be more than enough to begin a love affair with Muse for any of those out there that haven’t heard the band before, much as the entirety of Absolution ensnared me and reserved a space in my heart for the band for the rest of my life. Give it a shot, I think that after a couple of listens you will like it and even come to appreciate it for its beauty. I am now less speculative for the rest of the album and can’t wait for it to come out on October 1st!