Tag Archives: Muse

Muse ‘The 2nd Law’ – Review

10 Oct

‘Race! Life’s a race! I’m gonna win!’ This was the key line in Muse’s comeback single, ‘Survival’, the song that was chosen to soundtrack the London 2012 Olympic Games. It kind of threw me when I first heard it. Muse have never been ones for subtlety or understatement, that just isn’t what they’re about and that’s fine, but even by their standards this song sounded slightly ridiculous. It’s almost like a parody of a Muse song, what with the guitar histrionics, the virtuoso flourishes, the over-the-top choir and the crushing baseline. In my review of ‘The Resistance’ I stated that such is the band’s addiction to making each consecutive album bigger and more bombastic than the one before,  it would only be a matter of time before they put too much air into their balloon. ‘One day Muse will fail and rest assured it will be an epic fail’ I said. After hearing ‘Survival’, I suspected ‘The 2nd Law’ may be that epic fail.

Then came second single ‘Madness’, which turned out to be an unexpectedly brilliant slice of modern pop. It was, possibly correctly, identified by Chris Martin as the best thing the band have ever done. Muse don’t typically entertain songs about feelings or romance, it’s always been there under the surface but never before have they been this honest, simple and direct. Sonically its a fabulous record with a pulsating synth bass-line and a hysterical guitar solo that is in delightful contrast to the clean lines of the other instruments. The harmonies are meticulously stacked on top of each other in the style of ELO or Queen (a very obvious reference point, but for good reason) and you could even use the adjective ‘restrained’ to describe the arrangement, which is surely a first for Muse. ‘Madness’ restored hope that the band still have something  interesting to say.

So which route do Muse go down on the album? The ‘Survival’ route of bigger is (not necessarily) better, or the stripped back, more experimental route of ‘Madness’?  While stripped back is not how I would describe any other track on this album, most songs have more in common with the experimentation of ‘Madness’ than the parodical excess of ‘Survival’. It’s not a wholly successful album but ‘The 2nd Law’ is usualy a lot of daft fun. I fail to see how anybody couldn’t love the Prince humping ‘Panic Stations’ or the incredibly earnest and indulgent ‘Follow Me’. Even the aforementioned ‘Survival’ has a loveable quality because it’s so over the top – who else would dare make something this mad?

Because Muse are clearly having fun, the listener has fun as a result. But while there is a lot to be said for how free Muse obviously felt to try out new ideas, this experimentation leads to the album’s big problem – how disjointed it feels. ‘The Resistance’ suffered from the same issues but not to the same degree. Here we have a pointless orchestral interlude in the first quarter of the album while in the final quarter Matt’s vocals don’t feature at all. In fact for the final four tracks you barely hear a peep from him (two songs are sung by the bass player and the final two are instrumentals). In fact, the final 15-20 minutes of this album are surely among the most anticlimactic in all of recorded music.

You also have the fact that a pop song sits alongside a drum n bass song, a stadium rock song comes after an orchestral song, etc, etc. All these genre experiments still sound like Muse, but none of them sit particularly comfortably alongside each other. Structural issues aside, there is no getting past the fact that some of these songs just aren’t that good. Not particularly bad, just very, very average. ‘Save Me’, ‘Liquid State’ and ‘Animals’ just sound like filler in comparison to the songs that make up the first half of the album which makes this a bumpy downhill decent.

‘The 2nd Law’ features a handful of incredible Muse songs, some of the best of their career, but their experimental bent sometimes comes off as over-indulgence, and it doesn’t always pay off as handsomely as it does on ‘Madness’.  Despite some flirtation with ‘brostep’ and r&b, their true strength lies in the high octane rock music they perfected on ‘Absolution’. Very little from that album would sound at home on ‘The 2nd Law’ which means this may be the first disapointing album in the group’s back catalouge. However, once again Muse have pushed the boat out without pushing it over the waterfall, and that in itself is pretty impressive.

6/10

Muse ‘Madness’

21 Aug

Really like the new Muse single, far better than ‘Survival’.

Muse ‘Survival’

27 Jun

Muse are back with the first single from the next studio album, ‘The 2nd Law’. The song is called ‘Survival’ and it will serve as the Olympic’s official song, which means you can expect to hear it a lot over the summer. It might just be the most excessive thing Muse have ever done (which is saying something) but then with Muse it’s always been a case of the more bombastic the better and it would be hard to imagine them doing anything else these days. Listen below.

Download announcment and other festival rumours

17 Feb

The Download lineup continues to get better every year, but this time the organizers have really outdone themselves. AC/DC, Aerosmith and Rage Against The Machine will all be playing the event this June and it doesn’t get much better than that. Also playing will be Motorhead, Them Crooked Vultures, Deftones, Megadeath, Wolfmother and a fair load of tosh just to even things out. Download has upped it’s game and now the other festivals need to follow suit.

Glastonbury has also pulled out the big guns by announcing none other than Stevie Wonder, U2 and Muse for the event’s big anniversary year.

Reading and Leeds have not announced a thing yet although Blink 182 are all but confirmed (Woop!) and eveyone from Greenday to R.E.M, My Chemical Romance to Guns N Roses have also been rumoured. At V Kasabian and Kings of Leon are probably playing and Isle of White has got The Strokes, Blondie and Jay Z.

Watch this space…

Meanwhile tickets for Rage against the Machine’s victory concert went on sale this morning. The 40,000 tickets sold out instantly, the concert will go ahead in June before the band play Dublin, Rock Am Ring and of course Download.

Muse ‘The Resistance’ – Review

15 Sep

One day Muse will fail and rest assured it will be an epic fail. I was half expecting ‘The Resistance’ to be it, their downfall. I mean, when a band keep making each album more spectacular and overblown than the one before it’s only a matter of time before they go too far and make something that is an indulgent, unlistenable, self imploding mess. It happened with Queen, it happened with Pink Floyd and it was only avoided with Radiohead because they had the good sense to do a complete turn around and run in the opposite direction. Luckily for Muse fans ‘The Ressistance’ is neither their step too far or their ‘Kid A’. It’s their maddest album yet and possibly their best.

First single, ‘Uprising’, is also the opening track. If, like me, you were disappointed at first with this song then I think you will be pleasantly surprised to find that it works so much better in the context of the album. Listened to through headphones and not the car radio you can really hear the little details that bring it to life. The next two songs sound like they could have been equally good singles, both rank as two of the catechist things the band have ever written. ‘Ressistence’ starts of discreetly enough before it breaks into a catchy, typical Muse chorus. It’s one of the poppier things they have ever attempted and it works excelently. ‘Undisclosed Desires’ is another radio friendly song that borrows elements of ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ and the production of Timbaland. Once again it works much better than it ever should do on paper.  The three songs get the album of to a thrilling start that continues through ‘United States of Eurasia’ and ‘Guiding Light’. If Queen don’t sue over the vocals in ‘United States…’ then Muse should count themselves very lucky because it’s a huge, brilliant rip off of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. ‘Guiding Light’ makes an attempt at being this album’s Anthem in the vein of ‘Invincible’ or ‘Absolution’ and it’s good if not great. In fact if there is one area Muse are continually lacking in it’s lighters in the air ballads, nonetheless this one will do for know.

Lyrically it’s typical Muse territory. If you heard ‘Uprising’ or in fact any of their last two albums then you should get the picture. Basicaly political dissatisfaction, summed up through references to obscure philosophical works, ambiguous nods to conspiracies and the occasional sing along chorus. If there is one difference it’s that there seems to be more hope in this album and less bizarre imagery than the likes of ‘Knights of Cydonia’. The theme of love and fighting for what you believe runs throughout the album and the album can be nicely summed up by the following line from the title track, ‘Love is our resistance, they keep us apart and they won’t stop breaking us down’.

Every Muse album this far has had it’s fair share of fillers and ‘The Resistance’ is no different, although It probably has less than ‘Black Holes and Revelations.’ Unnatural Selection’ and ‘MK Ultra’ are Muse by numbers rockers, ‘I belong to You’ is better but basically a prelude to the madness that follows. These songs aren’t terrible by any means but they are easily the weakest tracks on here. The Three part ‘Symphony’ that follows has been talked about for years now and it finally appears as the grand conclusion to the album’. It’s not quite the grand spectacular they built it up to be but once I got over my slight disappointment I found it quite pleasing. The final part in particular has a wonderful subtlety I haven’t seen from Muse in a couple of albums, if at all. If it proves one thing it’s that this is the album where Muse finally embrace strings. They have used orchestration before in dribs and drabs, but this time the strings are the backbone of the album and not just on the final ‘symphony’. unfortunately this seems to mean less full blown rock. If you’re looking for anything as shredding as ‘Hysteria’, ‘Plug In Baby or ‘Knights of Cydonia’ then you’re likely to be disappointed. Synths and strings are the order of the day here and personally I’m not complaining when it sounds this good.

So another album another epic from Muse. Just when you think they couldn’t possibly turn out another record as big as the last AND make it work, they manage to better it. It would be hard to say just yet whether this is better than ‘Origin of Symetry’, ‘Absolution’ or ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ but the fact they have managed to turn out so many classics in so little time should in itself be applauded. In its own way its more cohesive and fully realized then any of their previous records which makes up for the slight lack of classic Muse singles. And the best part is that whilst they have always made good records they are even better live, so roll on Wembley (fingers crossed)!

8/10