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Muse - Absolution CD (album) cover

ABSOLUTION

Muse

 

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3.86 | 422 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
3 stars MUSE released their third album ABSOLUTION approximately two years after their second "Origin Of Symmetry" but in that short time the world had forever changed. The terrorist attacks of 911 and the subsequent illegal wars launched on Iraq and Afghanistan added even more political furor and focus on conspiratorial analysis of world powers run amok. Due to creative differences mostly resulting from Matt Bellamy's liberal use of falsetto vocal gymnastics, MUSE refused to re-record their second album for American record labels (who demanded they did) and therefore didn't find a US release for that album until years later. Having finally resolved their differences, ABSOLUTION still didn't see the light of day for a full six months after its UK release but finally got them in the North American club which helped launch their career into the next phase - international alternative art rock superstars. The 21st century British Invasion had finally begun, although one could argue that it was a mere logical next step of the 90s Britpop scene that had simply branched out into more ambitious avenues closer to the world of progressive rock, but nonetheless MUSE struck a chord with their politically charged lyrics, catchy pop hooks and artful sophisticated approach of stylistic fusion.

Once again MUSE scored big in their native UK with their first top 10 hit "Time Is Running Out," but while finally hitting the shores of North America, only managed to find success on the alternative rock charts. Bellamy claims the title is not religious but rather more in the sense of "purity" which sounds like code for a sense of soul searching in the midst of the world wide chaos that was taking place. While MUSE had started out as political commentators, the events of the world had put their disheartening viewpoints as the focus which is reflected in the darker themes with a more melancholic feel to the album as a whole. While the previous album had a sort of childlike innocence to it, ABSOLUTION feels as if a dark cloud was cast over the band as they lamented the times in which they lived but felt they had to take a stand and be a resistant force in every possible way. Since music was their vehicle of communication, it became infused with their political charged viewpoints which left no room for ambiguities.

While stylistically a darker album in contrast to "Origin Of Symmetry," as heard with the first jaded electronic effects on the opener "Apocalypse Please" with its "Intro," musically speaking, ABSOLUTION is much like its predecessors with a heavy focus on Bellamny's concert pianist skills channelling his inner New Romantic with emphasis on Chopin-esque classical chops as the underpinning. While overall the album is a bit less in the rock arena and more subdued and mournful with symphonic rock influences making a more prominent presence as heard on tracks like "Butterflies And Hurricanes" and "Blackout" which featured a full 18-piece orchestra. There are a few fully charged rockers as well ranging from the single "Time Is Running Out" to the heaviest track on the album "Stockholm Syndrome." The ELO-esque NU-ENRG disco effect still straddles around the classical piano, tango-laced bass grooves and heavy guitar riffs still are abundant even though there are a few new elements such as the focus on electronica on "Endlessly."

MUSE were progressing! So why doesn't it sound like they were? ABSOLUTION has always been my least favorite album of the early albums but i've never bothered to figure out exactly why i always favor the previous albums or the following ones. Something about this one is just off and has always bugged me enough to just ignore it. Having done my research for reviewing these albums, it makes more sense. MUSE had been rejected from US labels due to Matt Bellamy's passionate and overwrought use of Prince-like falsettos in conjunct with a rather 80s Bono (of U2) type of vocal style. On ABSOLUTION he sort of tames it down a bit and the result is that the music suffers since they seem to be the focus despite the ridiculous amounts of musical styles that accompany them. While MUSE's lyrics have developed, the music seems to have taken a few steps back. These tracks are just OK as opposed to the kick ass musical orgy of styles on previous albums. Add to that the tracks are badly paced with a silly ballad ending the album and a horrible production and mixing job to boot. This one just fails on many levels but there are still plenty of great tracks to make it a worthy addition to your MUSE fix. It's just that none of them match the awesomeness of "Origin Of Symmetry" or the next two albums.

siLLy puPPy | 3/5 |

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