Album Review. Muse – The 2nd Law

Muse – The 2nd Law.

Muse have defined themselves as the band that push the lines of mainstream acceptance, to stretch as far as a guitar led band can go and to offer a unique, over the top, sound. On their sixth album, The 2nd Law, Muse continue to strive to be that band, doing things differently and ultimately forcing the question ‘What the fuck IS this?’

The 2nd Law. Their once interestingly subtle take on the problems of the world sat alongside madcap conspiracy theories and fairytales for the lonely or desperate. They shadowed their output, united the die hards and livened up the increasing media coverage that followed the band. Good News, now everyone can be a part of Muse’s inner sanctum as their latest theories are unashamedly bandied about  making us all dedicated members of Team Muse. This level of inclusion and mass appeal doesn’t end at the album title either.

Pomposity is fast becoming a mainstay within the Muse pallet and this trend continues across The 2nd Law. Album opener Supremacy is overflowing with grandiose and arrogance, leaving elements of complication or surprise by the wayside as Muse second guess their way through a track with soundtrack inclusion in its crosshairs. The instrumental Prelude comes from nothing and clears the board for Song of the Olympics ‘Survival’. Heavy handed and littered with conflicting ideas Survival awkwardly combines these contrasting elements to create a song that’s both incredibly busy but stylistically simple while Explorers dreamily saunters with swelling crests repetitively lapping at the heels of the clinical vocals. Its soaring scope is forced in under professional sheen and fear of acceptance.

Elements of electronic music have grown hand in hand alongside the pomp and this takes on interesting and surprising new shapes across the 2nd Law. Current single Madness is a stuttering experiment in electro reminiscing that struggles beneath the weight of crooning vocals and a casual elongated guitar solo. Panic Station draws influences once again from the pop heyday that reined in the eighties as the vocals steer the song while the calculated, frantic nature of the electronic infused instrumental meekly provides the foundation. Follow Me drones and screams with repetitive lyrics that try their hardest to form a hook amidst a swelling wall of attention focusing electro chatter.

Animals acts as an appeasement to those fans desperate to hear a return of old for Muse, it’s progressive in nature yet manages to command its plateau amidst refrained breakdowns. Big Freeze relishes in the familiar of stadium rock and expectantly delivers according to the rulebook.

Bassist and backing vocalist, Chris Wolstenholme has been allowed his first foray into writing lyrics as well as undertaking the responsibility of lead vocals on two of The 2nd Law’s tracks. Save Me enables Chris to really drive the song forward with the instrumental backing as subdued as possible to allow the vocals space to shine, while Liquid State has been polished of all the emotional barbs that could befall a self-penned song about addiction, leaving it a sheer and shiny jaunt within Americanised garage rock.

The closing ‘epic’ of The 2nd Law is split across two tracks; Unsustainable and Isolated System. Juddering climbs and a female narration offer a refreshing glimpse before a radio friendly and easily digestible electro bass breakdown puts that to bed before folding and repeating. Silence falls and Isolated System creeps in with a thumping tinkering before more narration, surprisingly, dances atop a growing instrumental before an ever-enthralling fade out brings The 2nd Law to a close.

The 2nd law is a really special album, avoiding moments of stagnancy by breaking the flow at every opportunity yet masterfully allowing the entire album to sink into the background of any given situation.

The shuffle generation has severely wounded the concept of albums. Albums demand a hefty portion of involvement and time, we’re talking halves of hours dedicated to one genre infused type of music. I can order my shopping online, watch a film on the Underground and share my opinions in one hundred and forty characters or less. I simply don’t have the time or patience to subject myself to that level of similarity. Even some longer singles leave me with twitchy hands as I struggle to fight back the desire to fly a kite or get a topic trending. Thank god for Muse and their nifty solution to this problem. They gleefully skip between, across and through genres meaning that throughout The 2nd Law I’m never bogged down with the exploration or expansion of a single sound, instead I’m treated to a value biscuit selection of sound and that’s much more enjoyable than a packet of branded chocolate digestive music. Right?

If you like British rock why not check out Freeze The Atlantic, Sucioperro, Proxies or The Xcerts

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~ by justdip on 27/09/2012.

One Response to “Album Review. Muse – The 2nd Law”

  1. Nice review!

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