With The 2nd Law, Muse proves once again why they’re the most unpredictable rock band on planet Earth
After a decade of successfully trying, Muse still doesn’t look the part. Of rock stars, that is.
Having Grammy nominations, songs on the Twilight saga OST, multi- platinum success, critical acclaim, a celebrity wife (singer-guitarist Matt Bellamy+Kate Hudson = baby), and even a track for the Olympics, all that seems to have given them success without planting the seeds of their destruction. (Cliched but true.)
Despite their towering achievements and epic music videos, the trio that makes up Muse—Bellamy, bassist Christopher Wolstenhome, drummer Dominic Howard—look like office jocks. Slap on the starched- whites, black ties, and horn-rimmed glasses and these lads could be slaving away at a cubicle farm somewhere in London five days a week.
But they’re not. They are touring the world to support The 2nd Law, a massive new album that had their fans panting with anticipatory excitement for the better part of the year. When it finally arrived, it was received with ample amounts of knee-jerk high praise and sweet relief, for good reason. It’s an eclectic orgy of finely wrought sound.
Does it live up to the hype? Good question.
For the faithful, rest assured it does. For the newly initiated, it’s a great portal to the world of Muse. Opening screed Supremacy is a swaggering chunk of ballsy rock opera, where Bellamy’s croons prove he can sing like a girl. His guitar-play rips as well.While not a flashy virtuoso, he knows his musical pyrotechnics.
The most endearing cut on the whole album, however, is the pop-tinged, beat-driven love song Madness. Never mind the subtext, it’s freaking addictive and was a perfect choice for the album’s lead single.
It’s followed by the bouncing Another-One-Bites- the-Dust-esque funk of Panic Station, an irresistible three minutes of Prince, Bowie, and disco influences that would get heads bobbing from the moment the first beat drops.
Muse is business savvy enough to throw in their Olympic anthem Survival for good measure and it’s every bit the grandiose mess it was when it blared across London—a teetering collection of epic influences perfectly symbolic of the former Empire.
2nd Law wraps up with the pomp of a two-part outro, Unsustainable and Isolated System. Both are pure electronica extravagance loaded with subtlety, drama, and a breathtaking sweep. Too bad they are instrumental pieces— would have done better with lyrics.
For a rock album, this does its best to undermine the entire genre.
It’s safe to declare its musical scope so broad to the point of incomprehensibility. Where else would an expectant headbanger find guitar hero moments side-by-side with orchestral flourishes and dubstep?
As for the lyrics...smart, edgy, silly, sexy, cocky, funny, inspiring, subversive, and damn original.
As an album by Muse, which is almost as peerless as the mighty Radiohead, 2nd Law ranks as another colorful addition to their growing oeuvre.
It isn’t singularly brilliant (most fans agree their finest moment was The Resistance from 2009), but it’s quite a trip.
One last thing. What’s that on the cover? A jellyfish? No. It’s a neon- tinged map of brain waves.
Print ed: 12/12