Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review of "The Resistance" by Muse

When I learned that Muse is releasing a new album, I was ecstatic. I pre-ordered “The Resistance” as soon as I got a chance to, and was counting off days until the official release date, which was set to September 15, 2009 in the U.S.

The day has come!

Muse promised a new sound and I can honestly say that they are men of their words. This album is quite different from what Muse is known for. I haven’t formulated a full opinion on “The Resistance” yet, but I can definitely say that it is a positive one. The album felt like a wild bouquet of genres to me because the band (but mainly Bellamy, I would guess) collaborated a couple of unlikely flavors into one whole, at times resurrecting the popular past. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, the lyrics tell of conspiracies and revolution, with outburst of love and social commentary.

“Uprising,” the first track of the album, which already got a chance to become popular thanks to the VMAs this year, sounded like classic Muse the most. A cosmic, upbeat tune with lyrics about conspiracies and revolution. A safe, reassuring beginning to the album full of surprises.

The title track, “Resistance,” starts off as a soothing, beautiful tune, flowing into a determined piano melody, into lyrics of forbidden love. The bridge and the chorus came as a surprise of energy, after what seemed like a beginning to a ballad. “Love is our resistance,” declares Bellamy at the peak of the song. The last 50 seconds of the song subdue into the opening tune with the chilling addition of echoing drums.

“Undisclosed Desires” was a shocker! Did the record company mess up and include someone else’s song? Something from the olden days of TLC, maybe? This sounds strangely like…R’n’B! No, wait; I recognize Bellamy’s voice. But why? Why, Matt, why? I understand the quest for new sound, but R'n'B is not new and it has no business in a Muse album. It also seems to me that the song is about sex, which is cool, but coupled with the beat and the music it just sounds like it should be performed by a crappy boy band.

“United States of Eurasia” is an epic mix of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a hint of Middle Eastern flavors. Another soft opening with a piano, which turns into “And these wars they can’t be won/Do you want them to go on and on and on?” in the style of “Soldier’s Poem,” a single off of “Black Holes and Revelations.” Immediately after, Bellamy almost turns into Freddie Mercury vocally and stylistically. And as the last “Zha!” is sung, “Collateral Damage,” a two-minute piano solo begins. That’s one delicious musical cocktail!

“Guiding Light,” the fifth single, is something reminiscent of U2 in style. I can’t say that it was something out of this world, but it wasn’t bad either. Unfortunately, other than kick-ass guitar riffs, the song is pretty forgettable.

“Unnatural Selection” is another epic, political song, lasting almost seven minutes long. Starts off with an organ playing, a la “The Phantom of The Opera” (the musical, not Iron Maiden’s song) and Bellamy demands, “I want Truth!” Cheery verse beats are something like “Supermassive Black Hole” in style. Mid-song, the mood suddenly changes to a blues type of something, the guitar giving off desperate and frustrated emotions. The ending is kind of a heavy metal lick.

“MK Ultra” is very electronica-like, while still maintaining that irreplaceable Muse sound and quality. Despite the song being about losing control, Bellamy’s voice is very controlled in the different pitches he takes on. After viewing YouTube videos about the recording process and the different crazy things the guys have recorded to experiment with, I think I recognized one sound in this song as a whistle of a teakettle.

For “I Belong to You,” Muse probably got some of their inspiration from Maroon5, because that’s what the opening sounds like. The amazing thing about this song is Matt’s ability to split an English word and insert a whole bunch of French words in between. It goes like, “Mu [insert lots of French] se.” And the music itself has this French, cabaret vibe to it. Zesty.

And then there was the “Exogenesis,” a three-part symphony. “Overture” is just that, with “Rule By Secrecy”-like vocals. Very moving and powerful, the guitar adding to the explosion of emotions. “Cross-Pollination” uses Rakhmaninov, I’m guessing, for an opening because it sounds a lot like “Butterflies and Hurricanes.” The tone of the vocals sounds challenging, almost like an anthem. And “Redemption,” the final track of the trilogy and the album, is a passive melody asking, “Let’s starts over again.” It has a symbolic curtain call ambiance to it.

A little bit about the artwork. Before I listened to the album, I did not understand the colorful spheres with stars and planets. But having gone through the album three times now, I am fascinated with the artwork and its connection to the music. The cosmic atmosphere is present throughout the album and revolution of the mind and being in control of oneself is a topic of many songs.

As I’ve said before, I am still not sure what to think of the album as a whole, but in no way did it suck. It is very fresh; it presents Muse in a new, unknown light.

Now I am off to watch the DVD portion of the album. If it’s worthy of mention, I’ll be sure to write about it next.

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