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Muse - The 2nd Law CD (album) cover




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3.22 | 288 ratings

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2 stars Starting as early as Origin of Symmetry in 2001, Muse's sound has continued to diversify. They've held their albums together with high song quality and lyrical unification, but with The Resistance, things started to go wrong. With the Second Law, they didn't know where to stop. In thirteen songs, they present too many different styles: symphonic rock, funk, electro-pop, straightforward alternative rock, hard rock/metal, and the controversial dubstep song' need I go on? Combining this many genres is determined to be a mess. It does not sound like an album. It does not sound cohesive.

The songwriting suffers as well and many of these tracks are weak. Whenever I listen to this I usually end up skipping about half of the songs, though there are still a few very strong tracks on here. Supremacy is the best, as the regal, grandiose, symphonic opener, and Survival could have easily launched itself into the upper echelons of Muse songs, had the lyrics not been so cheesy and the completely unnecessary choir been removed. One of Muse's heavier songs, it is utterly overblown' but it was written for the Olympics, after all. After you hear these two highlights, you know that Matt Bellamy's voice has not deteriorated whatsoever, and is probably eternal.

Of course, I have to talk about the electronic influence that has expanded from Undisclosed Desires and might be the dominant sound on The Second Law ' though it's hard to tell, considering there are so many different styles on it. The songs most strongly based in electronics are Madness, Follow Me, and Unsustainable. Madness is pure pop with a trace of dubstep in the background, complete with a simple riff, echoed by a catchy hook, 'M-m-m-m-m-m-ma-ma-ma-madness.' But only Muse could say the word 'evolve' twice in a prime-for-the-radio love song. Unsustainable is buried near the end of the album, and it's the song that made this album so controversial before it even came out. Three years since first hearing it and I still can't decide if it's good or bad ' there's nothing to judge it against because it's one of a kind: dubstep with an orchestra, choir, and robot vocals, with the spoken word parts addressing thermodynamics. Way to go, Muse. It's unique, and a song you should listen to for its novelty, if nothing else.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme is responsible for the writing of two of the songs, Save Me and Liquid State, which sound completely normal and generic in comparison to the rest of the album. He sings them, and he has a good voice, though both compositions are fairly average. Save Me is slow and boring, pretty near the end but still nothing special. Liquid State is a heavier song, done well, driven by bass and worth listening to.

Towards the end, even as early Follow Me, the album takes on a distinctly non-Muse feeling. It becomes disconnected from the listener and doesn't really sound like them. Maybe that's me just going into denial about how they've taken their experimentation too far, but even the more traditional songs, the ballad Explorers and fairly basic Big Freeze, lack the signature Muse feel. This disconnection reaches a high with the closing track Isolated System. It's Muse's only (non intro/interlude) instrumental song, though featuring a great deal of samples. The emotional piano still conveys the old Muse idea that the world is going to end, but it's a piece that just doesn't sound like something they would write.

And the lyrics ' I've always admired Muse's lyrics, but I have no idea what is going on here. So many of them are ambiguous, cheesy, or inaccessible. There is little to no common ground between songs that attempts to unify the album, as was done on Black Holes and Revelations, and to a lesser extent, The Resistance.

The Second Law is a mediocre album. There are a few good songs, but too many different clashing styles and too much experimentation. It is inconsistent in terms of quality and sound, and so disjointed that it does not flow or sound like it should be together. Their worst album so far.

Insin | 2/5 |


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