I've been a fan of Muse for a long time. During high school it was "cool" for our little alternative group to like Muse, so I started listening without even questioning why listening to this band called Muse was cool. It was like our own little exclusive club, and as a bonus, everything I heard from Muse was awesome. Muse finally hit the mainstream back in 2006 with their album "Blackholes & Revelations", and became firmly entrenched in pop culture after the Twi-hards first heard "Super Massive Blackhole" as the backing music to that famous Cullen baseball scene. Yeah my exclusive club was no longer exclusive, but secretly isn't that what we all wanted? For Muse to get the recognition they deserve?
Well it's 2012 now and Muse have gone from strength to strength, with front man Matt Bellamy achieving 'Rock God' status. They have achieved universal acclaim around the world, but fans from their early days have started to have reservations about the direction their music is taking. So how does their latest album "The 2nd Law" hold up against their musical legacy? Well, much like "The Resistance", this new album showcases some of the very best tracks they have ever created, alongside some of the most boring and uninspired tracks they have ever created. In a word, this album is frustrating!
The opening track "Supremacy" is Muse at their absolute finest. An awesome grungy riff played out by bass guitarist Chris Wolstenholme, Dominic Howard tearing it up on the drums, and Matt Bellamy delivering some of his most powerful vocals to date. Bellamy also makes use of his trademark guitar solo and has composed an awesome orchestral backing melody - the result is a track that starts off by focussing on all these different elements individually before bringing them all together for a stunning conclusion. As I said Muse at their absolute finest, and the perfect start to their new album. So what happens next.
Well track 2, "Madness", is five minutes worth of Matt Bellamy repeating "Muh muh muh muh muh muh muh mad mad mad" interspersed with some anarchistic buzz words and accompanied with some fairly straightforward drums and riffs. Track 3 "Panic Station" might be my second favourite track on the album with a melody and vocals that seems take direct inspiration from the most upbeat and funky INXS tracks. In fact, the rest of the album sounds like it has been inspired by both INXS and U2 with easy listening melodies, funky bass riffs, and some Bono-like vocals from Bellamy. It might sounds like a good mix, and the more I listen to it the more I like it, but first impressions count and my first impression was "Meh".
Other notable tracks: the Olympic anthem Survival sounds much much much much better on the album than it did at the Olympics or on the Youtube preview, the sixth track Follow Me is another favourite with probably the best use of bass / dubstep on the album, and the eleventh track Liquid State is higher tempo grungy track that leads quite nicely into the two part cautionary tale finale Unsustainable and Isolated System.
So my overall impression... this is, as each album always is, a new direction for Muse. I feel like they tried out too many different styles of music in this album, and because of that the overall product seems to lack direction and cohesion. It is very easy for me to skip over a few of those middle tracks so I can get to my favourite tracks faster, which I think gives you the best idea of what I feel about the album. This is still an awesome album, but for your next one Muse can you please make more tracks like Supremacy, and less tracks like Madness?
Review by Ryan Lawler