Review: Muse, The Resistance

“Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that the fat cats had a heart attack.” Muse has returned with their new upbeat three-suite album, The Resistance. In the style of their major hits “Starlight” and “Super Massive Black Hole,” their latest album has all the ingredients of a typical Muse album—dark mystery, obvious clichés, drilling marching beats, orchestral waves and other Muse randomness—but has made a definite progression, switching from their usual electro sound to a more industrial one with improved harmonies and new guitar solo explorations by Dominic Howard.

I have been listening to the album frequently in the days since its Sept. 14 release, and, coincidentally, my jazz dance teacher chose the opening track for a dance routine earlier this week. Bizarre! I guess it just shows that Muse has versatility. It sort of makes one wonder: what is Muse? How can the band be such a musical mesh of industrial, electro, pop, punk and orchestral sounds with every rock cliché there ever was—and still sound so good? How do they emerge from pandemonium and madness to deliver such tight singles every time?

I suppose that this is what Muse is known for. It’s their ability to get away with album after exaggerated album, wading in and out of the waters of every possible musical genre and creating a whirlpool of chaos. They have never made sense, and have never intended to. At least not until now. Surprisingly, The Resistance has a strong political message underlying it, and is dripping in patriarchy and songs about being victimized. In a way, the boys seem to be resuming what they started with the track “Exo-Politics” from their hit album Black Holes and Revelations. Despite their attempts, it’s hard to take their lyrics seriously. “They will not control us. We will be victorious.” Are these lyrics directed at listeners, to motivate us and lift our spirits? Or are they telling us that Muse are victorious and shining on a pedestal of invincibility? Somehow, the theme comes across as very juvenile and sounds more like a reference to some petty problem with an RA rather than widespread, global issues. Maybe we have been spoiled by the cool lyrical randomness that Muse usually feeds our cluttered minds. Maybe we simply want more Hyper Music and Absolution.

On the downside, the band seems to be slightly succumbing to the world of pop, putting out a few songs that are very boy-band-meets-rock-world. Sorry, Nickelback fans. The much anticipated single, “United States of Eurasia,” is a sad imitation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and terribly disappointing—especially considering it has been three years since the last album. Orchestral rock and Prince are obviously not the boys’ forte.That said, the band was a smashing success when it performed The Resistance, its fifth album, at this month’s MTV Video Music Awards in New York City to a crowd of adoring fans. Matthew Bellamy’s voice has become deeper, darker and more dramatic than ever before, which is sure to increase his already huge cult following. If you don’t listen to Muse, you should.They’re back with a bang, ready to “Rise up and take the power back.”

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