Muse - The 2nd Law

2012-10-09 14:58
What we thought:

A new Muse album is always definitely a big deal. So why is it also always such a crushing disappointment when it finally unfurls onto your eardrums and never matches the hype or excitement? The 2nd Law, the UK band's 6th studio album, seems destined to follow on from its two predecessors as the bluster and ceremony far outweighs the musical accomplishments.

The 2nd Law is a patchwork of sounds that never fails to raise your heart rate for a minute before inevitably petering out. There's a lot of progress here, as they dance with actual electronic music and come away not looking foolish. Matt Bellamy is not quite the mad genius he may have once been, or thought he was. He and his band seem content to have settled for middle-ground madness instead.

Yes, it's bold and ridiculous and the perfect soundtrack to a mad hatter's party, only it can barely sustain its own indulgence. No mistaking The 2nd Law opens strongly and assuredly, with three of the best tracks the band have produced in years, before veering into the worst song released this year (possibly). The schizophrenic, almost attention-starved nature of Muse's music has fast lost its charm and the Muse responsible for classic albums such as Origin of Symmetry and Absolution have been lost to us.

Now taking their cue from the excellent thrills of Supermassive Black Hole, released in 2006, Muse's bluster is wearing thin, as Bellamy continues to find a common cause between the nature of love and humanity's destruction of Planet Earth while the aliens watch on intently.

Best track:

"Madness" – This strange deviation into dubstep has disaster written all over it, but "Madness" is a rare moment on The 2nd Law, as the band's experimentation (and Queen obsession) gives way to some actual release, and dare I say, pleasure. It's slight, but still exciting.

Worst track:

"Survival" – What were the London Olympics organising committee thinking? An abysmal attempt at rallying support and spirit for the biggest event of the year, with lyrics that'll make your stomach churn. Grief, it's terrible.

Sounds like:

Ambition has always been the best thing about Muse, and also its kryptonite, as is evident in the lucky packet approach to influences to be had on 2nd Law – dubstep-prog rock on "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable", John Barry's Bond theme on "Supremacy", a bit of Debussy there, some Radiohead there, and a lot of Queen everywhere else.

Listen to clips off the album here:

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