June 9th, 2010
So amidst the usual rubbish about “the truth confined” and various other bizarre conspiracy theories about space stations and stuff Muse have released another space rock album to add to their legacy. Following on from their real big break into the mainstream, ‘Black Holes And Revelations’, and on the back of summer smash single ‘Uprising’ we have the revolutionary sounding ‘The Resistance’. However this time, it’s very saddening to say that Muse have lost their edge.
Now don’t get me wrong, the likes of ‘Uprising’ and ‘Resistance’ are right up there with the best of their more accessible work; a storming rocker with sci-fi-pop sensibilities, and a catchy chorus people can sing at their now bloody massive gigs. It’s just now more than ever, Muse are starting to live up the stereotype of being an Intergalactic stylised Queen. They attempt epic with songs like ‘United States Of Eurasia’ and all it comes across as is the band trying to do ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from Neptune or something ridiculous. And you may be thinking “lazy reviewing”, and while in general I’ve avoided that comparison in the past, the evidence here is just mounting, and their attempt to make every song a festival closer is at this point extremely grating. Previously on records like the excellent ‘Absolution’ and ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ everything has been big, dramatic and scary but it was never the ridiculous caricature that this album is.
The music itself, in technique and execution, as always is excellent. Matt Bellamy is extremely talented at his primary instruments of piano and guitar, and whoever composed all of the string work obviously knew what he was doing. There’s also no denying that Bellamy is still in very good voice and rightfully no longer has to deal with lazy declarations of his voice being a Thom Yorke knockoff. Chris Wolstenholme‘s bass is as always great, not overly noticeable but very much an integral part to the setup. My problem with this album is not its musical prowess, it’s with the band and their sound as a whole.
They can’t seem to decide whether they want to be bombastic-space-prog extraordinaires or sleek, smooth popstars and this makes for an extremely frustrating listen. This problem is actually rendered physically in the tracklisting, with the lurch between the ethereal but cheesy ‘Guiding Light’ and the first half of rocker ‘Unnatural Selection’ being particularly jarring. The album does have it’s moments though songwise, with the jazzy ‘I Belong To You’ being a little reminiscent of Cold War Kids (that might just be me), but being something new to the Muse canon, and not being awful (see City Of Delusion’ from the last album), is only a good thing.
Before concluding, a brief discussion of the Exogenesis suite or symphony or whatever you wanna call it. I am not mortally offended by this like some other critics. Muse‘s experimentation has always been good or at the very least interesting, and the same goes for their toying with classical compositions (see ‘Exogenesis: Cross Pollination’). To be honest them spreading a big operetta piece over three songs does not surprise me. I’ll say this; in places it is great, it is as glorious and epic as Muse has ever been. But in other places it’s just boring and being over the top for the sheer sake of it.
It saddens this reviewer to say, but now when Muse bring out new feelings it will result in a feeling of dread rather than excitement. After previously relishing new Muse albums to see in what mad direction they would go yet, or to see what glorious stupidity Bellamy had added to his guitar most recently, now there will just be apprehension and most likely disappointment, upon absorption of the pompous, shellshocking incarnation of what this once great band have become.
Written by Paul Smith