Muse The Resistance(Warner Bros) Buy it from Insound
Muse really, really wants to be Radiohead. There was talk of releasing The Resistance as a series of singles, something Thom Yorke has talked about in recent years. The Bends producer John Leckie produced their first album. They talked about switching from a rock format to and electronic one for this album (they didn’t, but you can hear the attempts at an Idioteque clone three tracks in on Undisclosed Desires). They’re releasing The Resistance as a box set that looks suspiciously like the one sitting next to me on my desk right now. The list could go on and on and on. Their music generally doesn’t come off as inspired by the favorite bands of their youth; it comes off as Matthew Bellamy trying to cover up blatant plagiarism and a lack of originality with layers of keyboards and piano codas.
While they clearly have their stylistic roots firmly planted in the eternal excellence of The Bends and OK Computer, their worst copycat moments come from Queen. United States of Eurasia was a funny song to at the beginning, sporting their typically ridiculous sci-fi New World Order rhetoric that they’ve been growing increasingly fond of with every album, but it becomes even more laughable when Bohemian Rhapsody makes an appearance later in the song. It isn’t even disguised. I also don’t believe they have fully thought through their fictional protest of this hypothetical country- holding North America, Asia and Europe is, strategically speaking, an excellent idea. The Alaska-Kamchatka border issue is resolved, as well as the issue of holding Europe, which really can’t be done without Asia. Hold this United States of Eurasia for more than three turns and the game of Risk is yours. For all their worn out “we're under control by a faceless right wing enemy” whining, the one good observation they’ve stumbled across was an accident.
The self serious Orwellian references become more and more self serious and more and more painful on each passing Muse album. The music press (and their fans) thrust hugely undeserved credit on Muse every time an album is released, and it appears that they have become convinced of its truth. They can be a fun band in a hugely epic and over the top way, but the big stadium guitar and keyboard riffs of Absolution and Origin of Symmetry have been lost to needlessly complex song structures (I should say structure- it’s just verse chorus verse sandwiched between drawn out classical piano sections). And while those massive riffs were never exceptionally noteworthy, they were entertaining. Muse has sadly lost that as they try to make the masterpiece the NME, Spin and Rolling Stone have convinced them they are capable of. Trying to make an album that captures the paranoia of a changing world isn’t a great idea when you aren’t a great songwriter.
After fighting through five songs of tiresome keyboards and aimless protesting, we finally get Unnatural Selection, unquestionably the albums best retread. For one song, they’ve become that same old band of kids sitting around a studio saying “you know what would be legit? Adding keyboards, piano, and distorted vocals on top of a giant riff”. They then proceeded to make this song about sixty five times and it was often so tightly put together it came off as soulless, but it occasionally kicks ass. They usually get it right a few times per album, but unfortunately they only hit the nail on the head once on The Resistance.
Post- Selection, the album heads back into dull territory with another straight up Muse song and then a shuffling piano experiment that turns up mediocre results, and then from their dives right into “dear god why?” territory with the Exogenesis symphony. Hearing a fifteen minute long epic penned by Muse is at the very bottom of my to do list, right alongside challenging Sylvester Stallone to a fistfight and hanging out with Jason Mraz for a day (I mean he talks like he sings. I can’t imagine anyone not smacking him after five minutes of that). It’s long, unnecessary and very hard to sit through, not to mention I can almost hear Galadriel telling me all about the one ring during the latter half of Exogenesis I.
Muse’s career has been spent becoming increasingly serious and far less fun with every passing album. They rarely completely fail to find their sweet spot, but they are often left with mediocre results. They are a decent band until one considers their source material, something they can’t even hold a candle to. They are capable of making albums that are big, over the top and fun. The Resistance is over the top, but comes off as boisterous and overblown.21 September, 2009 - 09:56 — Andrew Baer