Drowned in Sound reviews the new Muse album The Resistance in a first listen, track-by-track commentary stylee...
A glam-rock 'Robot Rock' (Daft Punk) meets 'Stand and Deliver' (Adam Ant) synth throb, the combined effect of which is a little like Belgian band Millionaire. Or rather this is this album's 'Supermassive Black Hole' but with a riff a little like Battles' 'Atlas' but with intermittent Blondie 'Call Me' guitar squeals. Matt Bellamy's lyrics on this opening track kick things off in battle mode: "A fat cats had a heart attack...we've gotta unify and let the flag ascend....they will not control us, we will be victorious."
A tiny piano line, then drums like galloping the white horses of a tsunami. There's an odd nod to the Public Image Limited track 'Rise' with Bellamy pondering: "He could be wrong, could be wrong...couldn't be right?" However, this track is pretty much the album's concept summed up with the line "Love is our resistance..." but don't panic, this isn't an album free of sci-fi conspiracy, as Matt sings "our lips must always be sealed" before a thunder 'n' lightning-like Kate Bush 'Running Up That Hill' homage snaps and rumbles as the track ends.
With a skippity R&B rhythm, a hip-hop beat and mixed with a Dirty Projectors' soaring vocal melody (singing: "I want to reconcile the violence in your heart... I want to exorcise the demons from your past."), this track is an odd but interesting new feather to Muse's bow. Some reviewers will probably compare the chopped up samples to Thom Yorke's 'Harrowdown Hill' but it's much more kevlar coated and doused in 'Idioteque' head-nodability than that.
United States of Eurasia (+collateral damage)
The one you've probably already heard. An ode to Spielberg? Sounds like the opening of 'Radars of the Lost Ark' as played by Queen and Jeff Buckley. Fades into a Fellini cafe moment, followed by fighter plane flare and huge gong/drum-thud.
A marching hymn-like anthem. Those giant robot footed bass-synths stomp all over it. Sort of like MCR's 'Black Parade' stripped right down but sort of not.
The organ opening makes way for a pounding 'Agitated'/'New Born'-like riff. Not sure if it's the volume but this whole track (and most of the album this far) jitters like a beast with the shakes before making way for more of that gravity-defying floating off wonder that is Muse's trademark. Oddly, this is the first time I've noticed the lack of that compressed heavy breathing which rubs a lot of non-Muse fans up the wrong way.
Soaring, swooping and then clattering, then soaring like a shuttle ride (or at least the Disney roller-coaster version). Then a fuck off neck-pissing down riff. This track is a glorious rock epic.
I Belong to You (+Mon Coeur S'Ourve A Ta Voix)
Like the heaviest boogie-piano line Elton John never dared write. Followed by a French (like, literally sung in French) waltz motionlessly racing through the house of flying daggers. Then the melody drops back in and grooves around the refrain "I travelled half the world to say I belong to you."
Exogenesis: Symphony Part i (Overture)
Ladies and Gentlemen we're floating in Planet of the Apes space, crossing jungles and getting howled at by the Mayans. Waterfalls of strings, guttural bass thundering beneath. [Insert obvious Pink Floyd comparison here.]
Exogenesis: Symphony Part ii (Cross Pollination)
Plinky piano builds to a Godzilla riff. It's fucking ridiculous but exhilaratingly and brilliantly indulgent. Bellamy howls "You must rescue us all!"
Exogenesis: Symphony Part iii (Redemption)
This is lovely. A sleepy-time music box swirls and graciously builds and builds with strings atop a wondrous drum line before the whole thing rises up like an army of yawning tigers. Flowers open and suns rise and fall in fast forward on far-off horizons.
Conclusion: Muse have clearly gone off and explored their own possibilities, and the result is an album that rarely relents and surprises you with what's around the next bend. Really can't tell after one listen whether there are any huge hits on this record or whether the album is just one big adventure from a band who are really hitting their stride and unafraid of taking the lazy rehash path. The singles released thus far certainly don't do the album justice but perhaps offer digestible clues to this albums grandeur and the ever more sophisticated mad-scientist-ness that we've come to know and love from this Teignmouth trio. The symphony on the end is perhaps a bit much but then Muse have never been a band afraid of being bewilderingly over the top. 9/10