The Resistance

11 Sep

Someone, somewhere, is listening to the Arctic Monkeys sing about gobstoppers with a straight face. Someone else is listening to Katy Perry lying about who she’s kissed. Entertaining for a while, probably. But meaningful?

Meet Muse. Muse have more sincerity, ambition, enthusiasm and love for making music in a single song than the likes of Allen, Gaga and co. have in their entire combined back catalog. Oh, and they’ve got a new album coming out. It’s amazing.

Recorded and self-produced in a villa-slash-bunker recoding studio in Italy, it’s a lean 11 tracks of spaced-out synths, fuzzy bass and a falsetto that’s finally matured. You might have heard Uprising, a stompy opener that’s as filthy as Supermassive Black Hole (from Black Holes and Revelations, their great 2006 LP), sharing its pop sensibilities with little of its slightly alienating Prince vocals. But you won’t have been exposed to Resistance, which is a shame because it’s one of the best songs on the whole CD – a massive chorus and dreamy piano-tinged verses make it suitably anthemic for Muse’s razor-sharp live performances.

Undisclosed Desires is both un-Muse-like and utterly stupendous. It’s ethereal and sexy, with genuinely honest-sounding lyrics, and might just be the best song Muse have ever done. United States of Eurasia is considerably less astounding, but brilliantly strange (think an arabic cover of any given Queen song), unfortunately ended with a slight whimper in the form of Collateral Damage, a forgettable piano addendum. On a similar note, Guiding Light takes a little too long to pick up – it certainly sounds fit for a stadium, provided you’re Def Leppard. A hot guitar solo saves it from being a stain on The Resistance’s otherwise pristine Saville Row suit, and if you think that sentence sounds ridiculous, wait until you hear Unnatural Selection – nearly seven minutes of church organs, metallic riffs, gleeful distorted sneering courtesy of Matt Bellamy, chanted “hey!”s and moody breakdowns that wouldn’t sound out of place in their 2001 setlists.

Remember 156 words ago, when I said Undisclosed Desires was Muse’s best song? I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. It’s actually duking it out with MK Ultra. The latter is a dramatic masterpiece, with several sections that threaten to tear your face off and laugh down the wound. Muse have said that they found parts of this album so preposterous they were laughing as they were making it (certain “Eura-sia, sia, sia” refrains come to mind) – MK Ultra might not bring the giggles, but they’ll be more than a few massive grins.

It’s very much the opposite story with (deep breath) I Belong to You (+Mon Coeur S’Ouvre A Ta Voix). It’s very silly, very cheesy and very French, but you can’t hold it against the song with the knowledge that Muse took it just as serious as you are (namely, not at all). That’s not to say the song is exceptional – it isn’t – but this album, more so than their other four, showcases Muse’s ability to have a larf just as much as rock out. However, the album ends on a much more serious note – Exogenesis, a three- part (Overture, Cross-Pollination and Redemption) symphony that takes Muse’s grandiose ambitions to their most extreme, fantastic conclusion.

It’s over twelve minutes of full orchestra-backed prog, and it’s stunning. Incredible. The polar opposite to the chart-bothering earlier tracks, yet it’s something that anyone smart enough to buy the album will want to listen to again and again, if just to remind themselves how epic, loud, quite, brutal, gentle and utterly beautiful those twelve minutes – and the whole album – can be. And Muse are one of the few mainstream bands (they’re a bit weird, not not entirely commercially inaccesible) with the balls to try it and the talent to pull it off.  You need this album. There’s just one question:

Where the hell do we go from here?

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One Response to “The Resistance”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Old news « The Talking Stove - September 17, 2009

    […] That means you as well, Muse. […]

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