Review Summary: The roots from which a great tree grows, Showbiz is the prologue to Origin of Symmetry
It’s been 7 years since Muse burst onto the scene with Showbiz
a statement of intent from 3 young men from Teighmouth, Devon with a lot of talent and a lot more potential. Consisting of Matt Bellamy as the band’s vocalist, lyricist, pianist and guitarist. Chris Wolstenholme as bassist and backing vocalist, and Dom Howard as drummer; Muse were built as a trio with an intricate understanding of each other’s strengths, and weaknesses. So far, so good, so generic, but what makes the band so unusual was that even at this early point in their career, they had the uncanny ability to move all the energy from their live shows, on to those pieces of plastic 12 cm in diameter known as compact discs.
However, that’s not to say that this CD is flawless. There are songs on this that, for some bewildering reason, are so mind-bogglingly boring that it beggars belief that the band managed to record them without falling asleep. Songs like Overdue
have a combination of boring lyrics and uninspired, bland instrumentation (that is, bar the intro) which, try as it might, fails to leave any sense of satisfaction. Escape
is a little better, having lacklustre verses reduces it’s stature slightly, but the chorus exhibits some of the qualities that Muse would take and refine to for songs like Megalomania
on Origin of Symmetry
. As well as this, the album exhibits a flaw that would become intermittent, a weak finishing song. Hate this and I’ll love you
while exhibiting some amazing lyrics, along with some aesthetically pleasing guitar and strings, just fails to gel and leave the song as a whole, disjointed and disappointing, despite having all the right ingredients.
Fortunately. The good is more prominent than the bad. Bellamy and company show that they have a ability to pull off a stellar song when the chips are down. and while the album holds three or their lesser songs, it also contains some absolutely brilliant and beautiful songs. Opening track Sunburn
is a prime example of this. Focused mainly on Bellamy’s piano arpeggios with a simple drumbeat and bass riff, the song quickly switches to a chorus which is built from the bass riff upward. Add to this a solo which exhibits the beginnings of Bellamy’s guitar skills. On the other side of the coin, Muse show off the sensitive side of them that they rarely show in their music with Unintended
, which is built up of a few picked chords, a quiet drumbeat, and Bellamy’s vocals which, when placed against the background of the acoustic guitar and drums, gives an impression of a ghost professing undying love for their partner. However, the album has included a vitriolic attack on the band’s hometown of Teighmouth, Devon. Falling Down
acts as the bands outlet on to a town which they felt lent them no support. The lyrics, a thinly veiled attack on the town are set against a conflictingly peaceful, lightly distorted guitar for the most part, except for the final chorus, where, for a moment, the guitar lets out a screech like sound matching the pain and agony portrayed in Bellamy’s voice.
The other songs on the album are formed in a similar sort of mould, with Bellamy’s voice an a state of fluctuation between singing, screeching or hitting the upper ranges of his vocal range, behind a backdrop of simple yet effective guitar and bass riffs, which are reinforced by Dom Howard’s drumming, which, while remaining simple, doesn’t detract from the song with dullness, but rather, adds a contrast to the more chaotic sides of bellamy’s playing. It’s a shame then that an album, with an approach which, at first glance is formulaic but eventually reveals the complexity involved in keeping things simple, has it’s overall effect reduced by three songs which, unfortunately, are a little too
boring or in the closing track’s case, I little too
disjointed. That being said, the album is still, in no uncertain terms, good, but it leaves a feeling of “aww, is that it, I expected more” which, unfortunately, effects it more than three songs which could have been tweaked a bit ever could.
In Genre: 3.5/5
Out of Genre 2.5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reccomended album justification
The Bends: similar in genre and like Showbiz, was a precursor of what was to come
A Rush of Blood...: like Showbiz, good album with some glaring weak spots
(): Use of sounds that are only noticed after a few listens