Music Review: Muse – The Resistance (2009)

Muse, at it is already well documented, make superhero music.  Regardless of how seriously singer Matt Bellamy may take the conspiracy theory claims he’s now been making through Muse’s music since their 1999 dubut, Showbiz, Muse are not setting out for credibility, or to lay out any sort of plan to overthrow the wold leaders who are most assuredly plotting against us to… lead the world, or something.  Most of Muse’s audience doesn’t really know what Bellamy’s singing about, nor do they care; Muse knows how to get fists pumping, and to most, that’s all that really counts.

For this reason, it will be easy for many to forgive the undeniable cheesiness of The Resistance.  Accusations of Radiohead mimicry are now out the window; this time around, Muse have chosen to wear the likes of Queen on their sleeves, as is made almost painfully evident on “United States of Eurasia” (“Soon we will see that there can be only one United States of Eura… SIA!!”). To Muse’s credit, they’ve managed to inject enough unexpected influences here and there to keep listeners guessing.  “Undisclosed Desires” will immediately recall the sounds of Depeche Mode, while the piano based “I Belong To You” sounds as if a radioactive meteorite had taken out the Maroon 5 tour bus.

However, despite the unapologetic intentions of The Resistance, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that all the hype suggesting this would be the most overblown outing of Muse’s career was a bit misplaced.  For example, the roaring, ripping riffs which were so plentiful back on Origin of Symmetry and Absolution are now all but absent.  The first three tracks exist primarily to hook any new fans who may have first been lured by Black Holes and Revelations‘ two pop hits, “Starlight” and “Supermassive Black Hole”.  “Guiding Light” and “MK Ultra” can only be described as over the top, but they lack the dynamic diversity it would have taken to truly launch them off the moon.  There’s “Unnatural Selection”, but it borrows too heavily from Origin‘s “New Born”.  “United States of Eurasia” with it’s sweeping, Middle Eastern strings, and “I Belong to You” are really the only things here that outdo say, Mew, or any other like-minded space rock outfit in terms of bombastic scale.  It’s not often I ask this of a group, but Muse, next time could we have a little more… wankery?

On the album closing 3 song suite, Muse forfeit themselves completely to Bellamy’s whim, resulting in a trio of 4 minute orchestral songs that, of all things, seems pensive.  They go down tastily enough, but lack any kind of teeth; they sound good in the background, but background music is about as far as they go.  They never approach the heights of Muse’s guitar driven epics, and seem more concerned with sounding like good songs than actually being good songs.  One of the problems is length; with one minute meandering intros and outros to each piece, it doesn’t leave enough time for the song.  Given a little more breathing room, more devotion and risk taking from Bellamy in  both the song writing and structure departments, they might might have been career highlights rather than album highlights.  But Bellamy’s motive is certainly promising, and given that despite their shortcomings these last 3 songs are by far the highlight of the album, one can’t help but hope Muse will continue to explore classical writing and orchestral arrangements, only next time develop these elements into something that sounds less like Muse toying around and more like Muse taking over.  They’ve already been accused of ripping off Radiohead and Queen (albeit steroid injected rip offs).  Why stop now; it might be time to add Tchaikovsky to their list of blatantly obvious inspirations.

Despite this complaint, plenty of props must still be handed out.  The production, as expected, is flawless and beautiful; the album demands to be played at the highest volume bearable.  Matt’s songwriting remains consistent, although that will be could be considered apro or a con depending on who you ask.  And of course, the prospect of a new tour is absolutely mouth-watering.  Chalk it up to Muse, or to the lack of competition in a musical period dominated by auto tune, but either way they are undoubtedly one of the premier rock bands in the world, and they leave no room to argue otherwise with The Resistance.

Final Score: 8.2/10

Highlights: United States of Eurasia, I Belong to You, Exogenesis: Symphony Pt. 3: Redemption

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One Response to “Music Review: Muse – The Resistance (2009)”

  1. Excellent post, amazing looking website, added it to my favs!!

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