Muse. I’ve been loving them for the past week. I had high expectations from this, after their first album. This is also supposed to be one of their best to date. ‘New Born’ starts off with the lullaby like verse, having a keyboard-bass doodle. But that’s just foreplay. The real start to this album is the fantastic guitar riff. Matthew Bellamy has a real knack for unique (and relatively long) guitar riffs. Fantastic.
‘Bliss’ is another fantastic song, overlaid with disco-ish synth arpeggios and an interesting bass driven rhythm in the verses. ‘Bliss’ also has fantastic lyrics about envy, which really fits the desperately craving style of Matthew Bellamy’s singing. Seriously, the first two songs are so good, I would think it’s hard for this album to live up to it. And indeed, ‘Space Dementia’ isn’t as strong as the first two tracks. Still a good track, though I find the vocals way too affected, with too many Star Trek effects.
One thing that consistently surprised me was the extremely high quantity of bass and guitar hooks scattered throughout the album. Seriously. Real respect to Wolstenholme and Bellamy. Chris Wolstenholme’s distorted bass is a big part of Muse’s sound, completely eliminating the need for any rhythm guitar rubbish. Much appreciated.
This album is a massive leap over Showbiz, kicking Radiohead straight in their self-consciously intellectual wedding vegetables. Muse seem to be aware of the ridiculousness of what they are doing, and don’t seem to by trying too hard, while laying to waste (in a good way) classics like ‘Plug in Baby’. Speaking of which, that neoclassical sounding guitar doodle in the beginning is BRILLIANT. Classic.
The overall sound is incredibly varied throughout the album, from disco in ‘Bliss’, to Groove Metal in ‘Citizen Erased’ to symphonic rock err…all over. I’m quite tempted to classify Muse as Progressive by now, but I think I’ll give another couple of albums a chance before fully transferring them.
To point out the crap bits in this album, I’ll say that I find Matthew Bellamy’s dead cat screeching on many songs, particularly ‘Micro Cuts’ very annoying. In fact, I would go so far as to contend that Matthew Bellamy’s singing is my main problem with Muse. It works for a good 55-60 pc of the time, but 40pc annoying singing is just too much. Lighten up and drawl a little less, dude! The annoyance continues on ‘Screenager’, which is way too emo sounding for its own good. And the singing gets so annoying. By ‘Darkshines’, I was quite tired of this album. Its sad, frankly, because it was shaping up to be so strong, but ended up a bit limp-dicked because of such weak songs. Thankfully, ‘Feeling Good’ is a jazz/ R n’B like track, which I love.
At this point, I guess I should mention Matthew Bellamy’s keyboard playing too. It’s pretty good, and keyboards take up a large spectrum of Muse’s sound, making it denser and hotter and fuller sounding.
I’m becoming more and more fond of Muse, who bring grandiose theatrics when unwashed teens like Arctic Monkeys are dialing out the theatrics that are always welcome in music. There are some crap songs on this album, but just because the good material is so effing good, this just about sounds right.
– El Bajista
Glutton for punishment, eh? All MUSE reviews HERE.
More reviews of that most nebulous of genres – ALTERNATIVE ROCK – HERE.