Muse - 10 years / "The Resistance" review


14 Sep 2009, 16:52

Muse started out with "Showbiz" 10 (!) years ago which was an insight into the minds of 3 blokes from south England. Had you heard they were from Teignmouth? I had no idea. Hah. Anyways. "Showbiz" is a fantastic album. Simple, straight to the point and crammed full of amazing songs that make me want to sing along at the top of my voice.

Their next offering, which is undoubtedly my favourite Muse album and always will be, "Origin of Symmetry" was still based on the same principles of "Showbiz" but had more balls. Muse had come out and revealed themselves as geniuses. From the opening bars of "New Born" to the final blood boiling chord of "Megalomania" you are on the edge of your seat not sure what is going to happen next. I still have that same feeling I did about the album as when I first bought it... I still listen to it and pick up on little bits I hadn't before. Awesome.

"Absolution" was their first commercially accepted album. You may argue and say "Origin" was but "Plug in Baby" (sadly) didn't have the audience first time round that "Time Is Running Out" had. Muse went stellar with this one. They do like space after all... Suddenly everyone and their mother's owned the album and their music was playing as part of a perfume commercial. But despite all that, they still turned up tops with an album worthy of all the hype. Ok, it's not my favourite but if you can tell me that you don't tap your feet to "Hysteria" or play air piano along to "Butterflies and Hurricanes" then you are... weird... Hm.

In 2006 Muse brought us "Black Holes and Revelations" which was a welcome arrival for me personally as I was going into my last year of my Undergrad at Uni and their musical inspriation was appreciated and evident in my last portfolio of my BMus. This album pushed Muse even higher into the stratosphere and it was no wonder they were easily able to sell out Wembley twice (twice!). I was there :) It was awesome. Cheers Mum...

I'm pleased to say that "The Resistance", despite having a few puzzling moments, has sated my appetite for the time being.

For starters, the album layout is different from any other. Take the opening tracks of the last 4 albums ("Sunburn", "New Born", "Apocalypse Please", "Take a Bow"), they've all lulled you then gone KAPOW! in your face with choonage. This time there's no fucking about and we've instantly got Chris Wolstenholme shoved in our faces / ears with "Uprising", a glam, funk ridden tune that was surely to turn heads. It's a stormer of a tune and while some people have been unhappy with the lyrics, Matt Bellamy knows how to get a crowd to sing along. An obvious first single choice - number 9 this week.
Title track "The Resistance" is perhaps how we would have been accustomed to hearing a Muse album start, but instead it is placed second. The piano line in this sounds like something that wouldn't be out of place on some 90's dance track but have no fear! The chorus sorts it right out as the boys get their rock awn and Bellamy sings in that style that I love so much.
"This song is for anyone who likes r'n'b" - Dom Howard @ Wembley 2007. That's what he said about "Supermassive Black Hole" and "Undisclosed Desires" will satisfy anyone who liked that track. This track was primarily written by Dom and involves a lot of looping, something that was inspired by the Timbaland music that is so prominent on the radio. But hang on, what's this? SLAP BASS? Mm! I think bar the obvious bass heavy records that I own (Squarepusher, Pastorius etc) this is the only "pop" song that I own with slap bass in it bar "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon (Yes I mentioned him Ali. Get over it). Minimal but effective this one.
"United States Of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)" is the song that everyone has been talking about. Some people have said to me "it's fucking awful" and that's fine. But it's not fucking awful. It's fucking awesome. Yeeeaaaah. Bellamy gets his ballad on to start with pondering who we blame for the war *insert conspiracy theory blurb here* and then suddenly Freddie Mercury enters the room and Muse go all Romantic / Modern composers on our asses with an Eastern influenced string arrangement. Bellamy's a bit happier now, people are there with him trying to figure out the war etc so the piece gathers momentum. The bit where they shout "Eurasia! Eurasia!" is piss funny, and you can't take it seriously. If you do, you're missing the whole essence of Muse. "Collateral Damage" is a snippet of Chopins "Nocturne in Eb" with lilting strings which zooms into...
"Guiding Light". Right. I don't often have problems with Muse tracks and will be one of the first to stand up and go "omg it's awesome blah blah blah". Despite this song having hymn like qualities and being a bit epic and 80's, I can't shake the fact that it sounds like "Vienna". Thanks Ali. Wanker. Ooooooh Viennaaaaaa! It's true! I mean, I like it. But I'm currently not getting anything from it and usually I'm able to take something from Muse tracks. This one has me flummoxed. I might get back to you on this one.
Right. Enough of that. "Unnatural Selection". Herrow. Organ and Bellamy make way for a riff that will even make your Mum nod her head. This song is an absolute beast. There are elements of Muse when they first started out in this one and I have drawn similarities to "Agitated" and "Yes Please" during the chorus of this track. And then you get the verse and suddenly you're screaming "YES! MORE! PLEASE!" or at least I am. Heh :) Muse are doing what they do best here and rocking out... there's a bit in the middle of the track where they calm down a bit, mop their brows a bit (well they are older than they were when they wrote "Plug In Baby") and then they're off again. Riff riff riff. Bang bang bang. I can't wait to hear this live.
"MK Ultra". Rawk. I think this would be a good song to listen to when hang gliding. Much like Drowned in Sound said in their review, it does swoop and soar, before ending on a mother of a riff! It's the kind of riff that Buzz-o be proud of. Ah my. I need some juice...
Haha, now. Don't worry butt the next track "I Belong to You (+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre a Ta Voix)" has an element of Elton John and Jools Holland boogie woogie. It's excellent and I'm wishing I was being sung this song... It all gets a bit odd in the middle with Bellamy suddenly singing in French which is all very well but I'm not convinced about his vocals. Mind you, there have been no heavy breathing bits in this album thus far. Huzzah! I'm not sure what Wolstenholme thinks of this song but I hope they've had a fair bit of piss taking out of it... Oh, and what's this? A clarinet solo. Blimey. You might laugh, but yes. There is a bass clarinet in this track. "I'd travel half the world to say I love you". Anyone?

Ok. I hope you've had a cup of tea? As we're now onto the last bit of the album. "Exogenesis". The 3 part symphony.
It opens with "Exogenesis : Symphony Part 1 (Overture)" which contains some sinister strings and Ali got it into my head that Bellamy's turning into Philip Glass. He's not thank god, as all of a sudden the double basses start playing arpeggios and Dom lauches in drum kit 'n' aw. The vocals are up there with the violins while the bass plods on beneath giving the Overture real momentum which then fade out to...
"Exogenesis : Symphony Part 2 (Cross - Pollination)" which has some of Bellamy's trademark piano which leads us into a waltz like section. Oh and then Chris comes back into the room and puts a stop to this and they're thundering off again. It's all a bit ridiculous but I'm lapping it up...
Now, back to what I said earlier about Muse having a bit of a formula to their albums - the quiet start and then the rumbling endings to their albums. "Exogenesis : Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)". Glorious. This is absolutely lovely. I don't think Muse have written what could be described as a "love song" since "Unintended" but this is not far off being one. It's a bit like one of those boxes with the ballet dancer in them. You wind them up and they dance and then eventually they have to stop... It's a beautiful ending to a beautiful album.

So there you have it. My (not-at-all-biased) review of the latest offering from Muse and a tiny insight into what has come before.
I'm pleased they're back :) Just in time for Uni.

Happy 10 years since "Showbiz" Muse :) Here's to another 10!


  • LareinaBabyPhat

    Ooo i was goin to write a similar review in my facebook notes....And yea undisclosed desires is my favourite one rite now (...and yes I loved supermassive black hole the most too off the last one) I have another version of Undisclosed Desires (I think) that sounds more rock-er. Rock-ish. You get my point lol. And I just started listening to more stuff before Absolution and so far I agree with you bout Origins of Symmetry being their least so far I really like that one best =)

    15 Sep 2009, 17:06
  • MadameBellamy

    Thanks guys :) Glad my writing style tickles your fancy Jonno_17. I don't often write reviews - at least not of albums - but I can talk til the cows come home about Muse. I'm not sure if that's a saying you're familiar with in Oz. I can explain if you want heh! I'd be interested to hear the rockier version of "Undisclosed desires" - that song kicks ass!

    15 Sep 2009, 18:44
  • MadameBellamy

    Thanks :) Maybe I should write some more reviews...

    23 Sep 2009, 20:10
  • Linus-Grunger

    Hahaha! that was really funny to read at points, good review however, sorry it took me ages to read it! but I still think it's a pretty average album considering it's Muse. I only liked 'Guiding Light', 'MK Ultra' and 'Exogenesis (all of it). I hope for better next time around, I wrote a review for Muse on my blog actually, you should check it out and totally crucify me after it, which am sure you might (or should) hahaha! but WRITE MORE REVIEWS!!!! xxx

    3 Oct 2009, 20:45
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