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Muse - The Resistance CD (album) cover




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3.27 | 384 ratings

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3 stars A new MUSE album, another chance to explore the dramatic, bombastic world of Bellamy and co. Unfortunately, in this case, their world proves to be shallower, less bombastic and far less entertaining than I would have hoped.

The album is built around the keyboard more than the guitar, a marked departure from their previous work. However, they still manage to sound like MUSE: a proliferation of arpeggios, straightforward instrumentation and good, solid songwriting see to that. Having waited to review this album, I can't help noticing that many reviewers believe they sound like anything but MUSE: QUEEN, BATTLES, BILLY IDOL, BLONDIE, QUEEN (of course) - and, I'd like to add, ULTRAVOX, all get a mention. I think that's part of listening to a new pop album: our minds hold thousands of songs, and if something we hear rings a bell, the memory starts playing in our head. This happened to me, like it clearly did to other reviewers, so I waited to review the album until the songs took on their own personalities in my head.

In my view this album comes in two parts. The first two thirds is made up of excellent pop songs with a sprinkling of prog sensibilities: 'Uprising' is an in your face, high-rotation, catchy pub song with a sci-fi vibe and a thunderous beat, while the brilliant 'United States of Eurasia' contains one of the best marrying of orchestra and rock band I've heard in a long time. And that QUEEN bit, of course. I truly thought they were going to bust out 'We Are The Champions'. The lovely middle-eastern section really lifts the song, and the Chopin outro emphasises the message, with the sounds of kids playing eventually overshadowed by the aircraft overhead. Good work.

Other songs in the first part also work well. The title track has that odd Beatlesque pre-chorus moment, but I'm all for something different. 'Undisclosed Desires' has attracted a deal of criticism for being an R&B track, but my question is: is it a GOOD R&B track? The answer is yes. The chorus sustains this song and I suspect it will do well in the charts. 'Guiding Light' is the Ultravox moment. On first listen I thought someone had chucked 'Vienna' into the CD player. For all that it takes on its own personality fairly quickly. 'Unnatural Selection' is the obligatory guitar track a la 'Plug In Baby' or 'Hysteria' but is not as convincing as either - ironically, because of the proggy middle section, which seems out of place to me. In fact, a number of these tracks sound like the liver versions of tracks from previous albums, interspersed with odd riffs and piano solos that do nothing but distract from the momentum of the song.

Unfortunately the last third of the album is far less convincing. 'MK Ultra' is nondescript and 'I Belong To You' is completely ruined by the Saint-Saens interpolation. An overt grab for the girls, it sets my teeth on edge. And coming in for real criticism is the thirteen-minute so-called 'Symphony', Exogenesis. This is what the prog community was waiting for, and my goodness have they been disappointed. Boys, boys, didn't anyone tell you a symphony has FOUR movements? This is no more a symphony than is Brahms' 'Lullaby'. 'Arpeggio for Strings, Band and Mumbling Singer' would be a better title. 'Symphony' implies drama. This is as dramatic as a plate of soggy noodles. Truly awful, with no redeeming features. Where's the outrageous, fun-loving MUSE of 'Knights of Cydonia'? You want a proper 10-minute symphony by a rock musician? Check out the truly brilliant four-part 'Second Rendez-Vous' by JEAN-MICHEL JARRE - that's how it's done, lads.

Some keepers here, but ultimately this album doesn't really work, spoiled as it is by the dreadful, underwhelming 'symphony'. Approach with caution.

russellk | 3/5 |


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