I usually don’t like posting back-to-back reviews of the same kind of thing – so reviewing an individual song, after yesterday’s look at “Let Yourself Go”, was not where I expected to take this. But then – amongst an otherwise excellent run of music from New Rock 101.9 – I heard Muse’s “Madness” for the first time. And I feel that this semi-travesty must be exposed to my eight readers who haven’t heard the song yet.
If you’re not familiar – first of all, climb out of a hole. Secondly, take a listen to the band’s excellent albums Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations to get an idea of what Muse’s style is. There’s some classic rock, some piano, some soaring guitars, some elements of electronica and above all else, Matthew Bellamy’s soaring, golden vocals. It’s fair to say that while there is a “Muse sound”, it’s not as specific of a concept as most other bands. This is a good thing, as the band is liable to surprise musically, while you know you’re in for a great song.
But, as we all-too-frequently see in rock bands – here comes the reinvention album. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme said last December that the band would be doing “something radically different” on their upcoming album, The 2nd Law, with more elements of electronic music. And then Matt Bellamy said the group drew inspiration from – wait for it – no, really, wait for it – actually, cover your eyes – Skrillex!
While Bellamy claims Skrillex’s influence mainly came on the song “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable”, it sounds like electronica and dubstep have been more heavily incorporated into the album – and that starts to seep through with second single “Madness”. It’s evident in the first second of this song, with a repeated “M” sound and a dubstep background, that this is bad. Oh, yes, this is bad.
There’s nary a guitar to be found for the first 2:30 of “Madness”, shocking for a band that’s churned out memorable riff after memorable riff in its career. And in place of that, we get a techno-drone churning throughout the background while Bellamy churns out some half-hearted, occasionally OK lyrics. There are Queen ripoffs throughout – check out the random vocal harmonization at the 2:00 mark, which accomplishes nothing.
Quite frankly, this song is totally uninspiring until about three minutes into its runtime, when the energy builds up to at least something. There’s a passionate feeling to Bellamy’s voice, to the band’s output here – but why did it take so long? Everything beforehand is just so boring – and then the song drones to a dubsteppy halt at its ending.
Muse is trying something new here, and I suppose they shouldn’t be slammed for that. And yes, I’m inherently biased because you won’t find dubstep on my iPod – but I’m still disappointed by this. “Madness” plays like a rehashed George Michael tune that doesn’t pick up until it’s almost too late. Is this Cher or Muse? I’m not sure I want to find out.