So now, we come to the most sci-fi and political album of Muse. Odd combination, isn’t it? Sci-fi and political. Sci-fi mostly in sound. Political in lyrics. Anyway, this is Muse’s second latest album, and I can’t wait to hear it.
Let me state at the outset that I don’t really give a damn about the lyrics. They are average, but occasionally are good like on “Bliss” (Origin of Symmetry), “Starlight” and “Knights of Cydonia”. But lyrics are not as much the point of this point as pure sound. Dream Theater are about their instrumentalists, Dylan is about the songs, RHCP are about the rhythms and feels, and Muse is about sound. Mainly. All consuming sound. Loudness is key here. As is distorted bass. And guitar. But on this album, distorted bass. Try “Starlight” and “Supermassive Black Hole”. Both fantastic songs anchored by the awesome bigness of Chris Wolstenholme’s sound. He can get technical at times, but he is more about….you guessed it…sound. One of the bassists of the decade, undoubtedly. Check this Osaka Jam out.
Did I mention that there is a big electronic element here? Yup, it’s all over the place, and much more than the much rockier Origin of Symmetry, and the much (supposedly) poppier Showbiz.Many a great band has fallen by the wayside attempting electronica, not in the least the Rolling Stones and U2. But you know what? Muse pull it off. And pull it off with a flourish. The touches are just right. Special props must go to drummer Dom Howard for really doing justice with his 16th note beats. He really knows how to serve the song. Look no further than the quite danceable “Map of the Problematique”. Also sample “Invincible” and “Soldier’s Poem”.
Muse is about sound. All consuming sound.
Oh, and don’t forget “City of Delusion”. It might very well be Muse’s “Kashmir”, but the highlight- like many earlier Muse classics like “Hysteria” and “Hyper Music”- is the bassline. Watch out for the rolling-churning soup that is Chris Wolstenholme’s bassline. And “Knights of Cydonia”? It’s a great song, but its live performances are some of the most epic live performances by any band. Ever. Try this with headphones.
Matthew Bellamy’s singing is also much improved, with the one big difference being that he isn’t dying on every song. That was my one big criticism of Muse, and that’s gone as well. Criticisms of the album? Well, it’s longish, and the ballads don’t really work, though they are musically interesting to a n00b such as myself.
This is clearly a band at the height of their powers, and I can’t wait to review The Resistance, of which I’ve heard (and loved) a few songs. This sounds right.
– El Bajista
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