Muse, The Resistance

Over three years (has it really been three years?) after the release of their previous blockbuster Black Holes and Revelations album, Muse finally released a follow-up last week: The Resistance.

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These days, I am not that sure Muse release albums anymore; they release bombastic dystopias. This new album does not pack as much pop-rock punch as its predecessor, but it does pump the Winston Smith factor to a new degree of incredulousness. Opening track and first single Uprising sounds like a Dr. Who theme remix in the hands of Queen, and The Resistance aims to continue the program, with its head so thoroughly on another planet that the naff lyrics don’t bite as hard as they should do. Undisclosed Desires is the change of pace dance track sitting in the same album position as Supermassive Black Hole was on the last album, and probably won’t do as well, but still showcases the band’s absurd range.

The fourth track on the album and arguably its crowning glory in all its blunder is United States of Eurasia, ostensibly a new national anthem for Orwell and Huxley’s brave new world. A massive string section provides a backdrop of pomp and clever middle eastern motifs to Bellamy’s vainglorious warbling. From there the band launches into Guiding Light, a mid-range power ballad with a wink and a nod to the previous album’s epic Invincible. Unnatural Selection and MK Ultra reignite the band’s cyber rock tendencies, but its fair to say that these two tracks are not as incendiary as the middle section of their last work.

The latter portion of the album is indeed strange – on the one hand there is I Belong To You, in which Matt Bellamy attempts to lead the band on an oddly out of place Jackson 5-like romp. The final triplet of tracks, the “Exogenesis Symphony”, allow Matt Bellamy the freedom to exercise his maniacal self-indulgence, backed by a grand series of orchestral string movements. Its all a bit more grandiose than it is cathartic, and although the album is tied off nicely, one is left feeling a little unsatisfied.

If you thought Black Holes and Revelations was unbearably over-the-top, you won’t like The Resistance one little bit. On the other hand, if you are willing take your disbelief out behind a back shed somewhere and shoot it (repeatedly) dead, you might get quite a bit of bemused mileage out of this album.

ELSEWHERE: Pitchfork predictably pan it (5.9/10), The Guardian gives it 4/5 stars.

4 thoughts on “Muse, The Resistance

  1. I actually can’t stand Muse, so I guess my contribution to this thread will be pretty minimal. I heard the thing in full one day on Triple J. I was not surprised by what I heard, merely dismayed.

    I always end, with them, wondering what all the bombast was in aid of? Every fucking album’s a resistance against the dystopian overlords, but we never hear much about what exactly the Man is doing. It’s all rather abstract.

    It’s like Muse are Radiohead’s ugly cousin who got a copy of 1984 for their birthday and have mined it ever since.

    I haven’t even read 1984. Between the references to it which permeate our culture, and Muse’s songs, I feel that I have a pretty good handle on the plot. Oh and watching Brazil. That helped.

  2. Despite the bombast, I don’t think they are a didactic rock band in the same way that U2 (ok, mainly via Bono’s meddling) and Radiohead (much more obliquely) are.

    Well worth reading 1984 though.

  3. ah yes but in music, emotional payoff is the key. Back in the day 1985-95 (they’ve turned to something fairly vile themselves in recent years) Bono & co. could get away with any manner of ranting because the music was glorious, a liberation.

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