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Muse - Showbiz CD (album) cover




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3.11 | 294 ratings

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2 stars When comparing it to 'Muse's' later albums, 'Showbiz' is a considerably less intense and powerful effort, despite being so overtly angsty and emotional. A clear sound for the band is already being developed here, with the extremely rough, heavy guitar tone being balanced with elements such as a piano, making for something that has a unique edge to it, despite the songwriting being extremely standard affair for an alt/indie rock band. The performance is nothing short of impressive, with the instrumentation being able to set tone and emotion quite well, and Matt Bellamy already proving that he is a great vocalist, even if his singing can become a bit overbearingly angsty at times. And this is really one of the main places in which the album falls apart for me, the extremely monotonous tone that each song brings, all being overly emotional without actually being impactful, which causes it to be something boring, rather than what adds extra depth to the album.

Despite what I've said, there are some more positive elements to the album, especially in terms of production, being able to easily provide the right amount of power to sections that require it, along with the mixing being nothing short of excellent. The first song, 'Sunburn', demonstrates this perfectly, along with the fact that this album definitely has some songs which are excellent. The piano that runs throughout makes for an excellent point of contrast once the song becomes heavier, with particular focus on a really great, fast bassline, along with a very scratchy sounding guitar solo, all before Matt adds more power to the chorus through his incredible delivery, which allows for fairly mundane progression of songs to still be elevated to impressive levels. 'Muscle Museum', while slightly weaker than 'Sunburn', is another amazing song, with a more subtle progression with a simple, yet highly catchy melody that displays the more pop oriented side that the band always contained. The riffs are also something truly great here, although they can feel somewhat repetitive by the end, with a less passionate, but still great performance by Matt. After this point is where the flaws begin to show, as this is where one can really feel the strong 'Bends' and 'Pablo Honey 'era 'Radiohead' influence, which doesn't work well in many cases, as it leads to a lot of the tracks sounding quite bland, 'Filip' being a prime example of something that feels as if it could fit right in 'Pablo Honey', being downright cheesy in a way that really isn't fun at all, instead coming across as irritating.

Another problem that begins to show here is the relative weakness of the ballads here (although I do find that to be a fairly consistent issue with the band), with both 'Falling Down' and 'Unintended' bringing nothing particularly new to the table and acting more as points of pure boredom on the album, especially since 'Muse' is a band much better at conveying strong, overpowering emotion, rather the more subtle side of things. I'd probably be less fond of the album than I am if it weren't for the second wind it gets in the three tracks in the middle, 'Cave', 'Showbiz' and 'Uno'. 'Cave' is very intense, with some more chaotic instrumentation and the music becoming a wall of sound, with the piano strewn throughout giving the song some amazing depth, along with the other instruments performing amazingly. 'Showbiz' is the one track which I find interesting from a structural standpoint, with the standard verse chorus etc. being ditched in favour of a constantly building power, with the same few lines being repeated, each time sounding more broken and desperate than the last, escalating to truly harrowing levels. 'Uno' is a song that while 'm not quite sure why I enjoy it, I know that I do. I find the chorus to be simple, yet effective, but do admit that it's nothing particularly special. If the album ended right here, my rating would be a fairly easy 3 stars, due to being patchy as well as very samey in its sound, however, this is where the album becomes far worse in my opinion. At this point, the tone and emotions being displayed are becoming tiresome due to the fact that all the songs feel as if they're covering more or less the same topic in a similar way, making any tolerance for mediocrity become much lower. furthermore, these songs are some of the worst on the album, kicking off with 'Sober', having a climax that feels incredibly similar to 'Radiohead's' 'My Iron Lung' to an annoying degree, as this is a far inferior song to that. The rest of the songs here just sound like rehashes of previous songs, or at least close enough to that for me to not care about them and find it hard to remember anything about them even after a number of listens.

While 'Muse' have made a few great albums, this is definitely not one of them, being quite dull and simplistic in many places, along with repetitive and generally unimpressive bar a few tracks (which do happen to stand out incredibly and salvage the album to some degree). There's definitely some potential that can be seen here, but even so, I feel very happy that I started off listening to 'Absolution', rather than this, otherwise my experience with the band would likely have been very different. As it stands, I'm just not a fan of many songs on the album, and the final 4 all being duds in my opinion makes the experience that much less enjoyable. This definitely isn't worthy of 1 star, as there are a number of things which I consider to be executed well, but I also can't really justofy rating this anything higher than a 2 because of how many flaws I feel it has.

Best songs: Sunburn, Cave, Showbiz

Weakest songs: Fillip, Overdue, Sober

Verdict: I'd really recommend that if you are planning on getting into Muse, you start off with Origin of Symmetry or Absolution, as they'll provide a much better picture of what Muse sound like. As this album stands, it's overly angsty with perhaps a bit too much Radiohead influence bleeding through. This combined with a very patchy tracklist causes me to only recommend this album to those who are already fans of the band.

Kempokid | 2/5 |


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