I would not say I’m a Muse fan by any stretch of the imagination, I like the odd single here of there, but generally speaking I find them to be pretentious, full of delusions of grandeur and most importantly they seem devoid of original ideas. That last point is particularly prevalent on the band’s latest release “The 2nd Law”.
Now before all you Muse fanboys light your torches and crawl out of your bunkers to come give me a shoeing, I am going to be as constructive as I can about the music in front of me, and will try to keep this from descending into a slagging.
The album starts off promisingly enough with ‘Supremacy’ which in the space of 5 minutes manages to cannibalise every single classic Bond theme song into one, its a great song that sets a tone for the album that follows, well you would think anyway. ‘Madness’ is all cold synths and thumping dubstep over a minimalist vocal which is actually more expected from Muse than people would have you believe, it was an obvious choice for a single and damn fine one at that.
Then there is ‘Panic Station’ which just rips off the rhythm section from Queen‘s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’; wholesale thus furthering the bands desire to be the new Queen it would seem, other than that it is a fairly stock track that is fairly forgettable.
Elsewhere the album you have ‘Survival’ which may be one of the most interesting yet overblown songs the band have done, using orchestration, booming back vocals and some Danny Elfman circa his Tim Burton era, its probably the best track on the album and a reminder that when they want to be Muse can actually be quite ambitious.
‘Big Freeze’ is another song destined to be a single as its the archetypical Muse track that has everything fans come to expect from them, including a bass line that is to die for and a melody that was made for dance floors, and a chorus that will get under your skin, its the one track on the album that I feel connects “The 2nd Law” with the rest of Muse‘s back catalogue.
The last two tracks however insure that the albums fades out with a whimper rather than a bang, two instrumental tracks with a news reporter talking over them, which while I appreciate what the band was trying to do by using those tracks to connect to the big brother is watching theme of today’s society they just feel a tad overbearing and serve to annoy rather than enhance the listening experience.
“The 2nd Law” was also going to be a decisive album for Muse, and whole one has to admire what the band has tried to accomplish with it,even with the album title which itself is a reference to the second law of thermodynamics, about the transference and destruction of energy sources based on what goes in and what comes out. Which is fitting because Muse have laid out a clinical almost icy musical landscape out to their audience, but in the process has left them very little to cling onto,creating an album that will give the audience as much as they are prepared to put into it
Muse will still go on to conquer the world, and “The 2nd Law” will be a blip in the bands arsenal rather than the catalyst for their fall from grace, but maybe on the follow up to this the band should work with a producer that will help them reign in some of their ideas and provide them with some focus rather than letting them run wild on their own