Muse – Madness (single) (Warner Bros. Records)

When Matt Bellamy told KROQ radio in Los Angeles that the band’s latest single “Madness”, released this morning (August 20), was probably his favourite song he’d ever written expectations were set, well, fairly high.

“Madness” follows the first single “Survival” (click here to read the review) from the band’s highly anticipated upcoming sixth studio album ‘The 2nd Law’. Last week, the band unveiled another new track “Unsustainable ” (click here to read the review) although it was not officially released as a single.

Featuring a big fat 4/4 electro beat complete with hand claps, “Madness” is an electronic driven pop track during which the first two minutes feature only a beat, Matt’s crystal clear vocals and a deep synth-bass with dub-step warping. Though still very much produced, stripped of all the usual layers “Madness” reveals Matt Bellamy’s incredible songwriting abilities in their most simple form.

“Madness” is certainly the most pop Muse have sounded, in fact the song there is a strong influence of pop and R&B with even a smattering of George Michael. Alongside the band’s existing catalog, “Madness” would be most comparable to “Undisclosed Desires” from the band’s last record minus the dramatics.

Guitars don’t really play a role in the track until a Brian May like guitar solo sounds at 2:42 and by 3:00 additional layers of sound enter and the whole production just radiates immaculately.

With little change in the way of key or dynamic for the first three minutes you get the sense it’s all leading to something, and at 3:40 is when it hits. And it explodes. Bellamy hits the big note with his angelic Jeff Buckley-esque tone of old, and holy shit it’s an incredible note; goose bumps are guaranteed.

With the exception of the guitar solo mentioned above, on “Madness” Muse finally let go of the Queen emphasis that so strongly coloured their last album and single “Survival” and here, Bellamy’s vocal melodies are also particularly impressive, losing the Freddie Mercury tone and vocal theatrics.

Not since the ‘Showbiz’ or ‘Origin of Symmetry’ era albums have Muse been as brave and sincere as here. While clearly “Madness” sounds nothing like the aforementioned albums,  it shares their bravery and individuality, and it has been a long time since we’ve heard the band minus the pomposity.

The song is sure to divide opinion amongst Muse fans but in terms of its songwriting, exploration and that fact it’s not predictable in the way that “Survival” was, “Madness” is a winner.

“Madness” is available on iTunes now while the album ‘The 2nd Law’ will be released on 2 October, 2012.

Watch the video for ‘Madness’ below:

Update September 6 – watch the official video for ‘Madness’ below: