Review: Muse – The 2nd Law

To be clear, I have never listened to Muse. I am coming into this with a clean slate and no previous Muse-ing to compare to.

From the beginning of this album, it’s evident Muse means business. The very first song, “Supremacy” has heavy drums and bad-A bass line. It grabs you by your junk and refuses to let go — which, for now, I’m down with.

Then the album moves to perhaps their most popular song on this album, “Madness.”

I have mixed feelings about this song. First of all it’s very Queen-esque. Freddy Mercury would be proud. Then, once the guitar solo starts, I can’t stop singing “Ohhhh wowooooo sweet child of miiiine!”

It makes me want to just quit and listen to Guns N’ Roses. Listen to it. Trust me, the guitar solos are almost identical.

When watching Muse perform this song on Saturday Night Live, all I was wanting it to do was pick up. The song left me with so much anticipation, but on the album, it’s a smooth and exciting transition from the calm bass line into Matthew Bellamy’s screeching — in a good way — vocals.

The way “Prelude” flows directly into “Survival” is flawless. I didn’t even realize they were two different songs, which I guess is the purpose of a prelude. If I was lost in a desert somewhere and a movie was made about it, I would hope the montage of me making a bed out of rocks and shots of me struggling to find water would be accompanied by “Survival.” That’s how great this song is.

After all of this, though, I seemed to notice a pattern: heavy bass lines, hauntingly demure vocals, a build up and some dub-stepish business infused in between.

Not that any of this is bad, but the songs seemed to run together. Again, I have never listened to Muse before, so maybe this is revolutionary in comparison to their first album. Who knows? Not me, that’s who.

I had to skip “Animals” because I was so bored with it.

Then I reached the lullaby-style song, “Explorers.” Not bad, Muse. Not too shabby at all. This song was when I was really able to appreciate lead vocalist, Matthew Bellamy. The song never morphed into him screeching. The lyrics are beautiful and Bellamy stays well within his vocal range instead of over-doing his vocals. Every album needs a song like this to show that there is actual talent within the band instead of just being a one-trick pony — I’m looking at you, Mariah Carey.

I have to give mad props to the back-up singers, too. They add a new and different kind of element to the album. They give the album a Broadway musical flair, but the modern kind — not the Ethel Merman kind, thank the good Lord baby Jesus. This flair is evident especially in “Big Freeze.” Again, so much like Queen.

Overall, even though the album sounds like most of the songs were recorded while the entire band was spelunking from inside a cave, (especially “Save Me”) this is quality music. I’m not jumping up and down for joy because of it, but I do really enjoy the majority of the songs. Maybe it’s too sophisticated and I’m just a simpleton whose IQ is only a few points above plant life, but so be it.

Each of the songs had a common thread and, while some were harder rock than others, I appreciated the quasi-uniqueness of it all.

While the majority of it sounded like a Queen tribute, I’m a Queen enthusiast, so I was down with it. Great study music, interesting and can definitely raise an eyebrow or two, especially in comparison to mainstream music these days.

★★★

 

About Sydney Holmes
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