Review Summary: Meandering and lengthy, Muse find themselves without direction or inspiration
Muse – The Resistance. (Excréter la Prétention de Tous les Orifices)
Perhaps the most noticeable features of Muse newest LP would be: 1) The (over)production, and 2) the obscene amount of quality fluctuation. Lack of replay value and inspiration plague it throughout, resulting in a thoroughly uninteresting album with little exception.
Opening with Uprising, electronic beats and high strings abound, the album starts off poorly. With very little guitar, an inaudible bass and the most simplistic drums, Muse finds themselves succumbing to mediocrity, due to lack of direction. While the song is well produced, there’s little substance beneath the production. Resistance fares no better. It’s Bellamy and Co., with perhaps their most unmemorable appearance yet.
Disappointed, but hopeful, the listener is met by Undisclosed Desires. The poppy chorus, playful strings dancing behind Bellamy and linear electronic drum patterns proves effective, creating a solid, if drawn-out song.
Faux-Queen anthem United States of Eurasia closes out the opening section of the album with dramatic strings and Bellamy’s operatic falsetto. The symphony makes its first appearance here, with a choir repeating the last syllable in “Asia” over and over and over again. Muse yet again impresses with their deep, insightful lyrics. Oh, there’s a minute and a half piano interlude tacked on at the end.
Five minutes later, we’re a minute into Unnatural Selection, trying very hard to forget Guiding Light. A thoroughly forgettable seven minutes later…
Racing strings and guitar riffs bring us into MK Ultra. Arguably the strongest song on the album, MK Ultra is reminiscent of earlier records, with more stripped down instrumentation. While still sounding a bit like a B-side of Black Holes and Revelations, it’s a breath of fresh air.
A playful piano dances along, with the clapping of hands, occasional mutter from Matt, and a bliss down the keyboard, and we’re into I Belong To You. Staccato piano chords and backing vocals create a genuinely enjoyable pop song toward the end of the album. The lightheartedness fades quickly however. The song collapses into a minimalist piano piece, met by Needs-To-Be-Reminded-He’s-Not-Freddie-Mercury-Bellamy. We wait while Matt satiates his desire for attention, complete with his little vocal solo halfway through the song. The tempo picks up again, the refrain is sung again, and we’re back into the beginning of the song with a saxophone accompaniment.
Exogenesis – the very name spews pretentiousness. A minute of long tones from the strings, we’re met by arpeggios, electronically mixed drums, some subtle keyboard overlays behind the orchestra, and… Bellamy. Three minutes in, the guitar arrives. With a full orchestra at your disposal, almost unlimited possibilities, a chance to really wow his audience and Muse’s fan base ready to bask in the glory that is Matthew James Bellamy, what does the musical prodigy do? He has the orchestra play arpeggios for four minutes while he wails into the microphone nonsensically. Not to say that sounds bad, it’s all very well produced and is presented as a cohesive package. But really?
Ultimately, Muse have crafted a complex, yet forgettable album. Over-reaching their boundaries, Muse has flung themselves into open space with no musical or conceptual direction. The album becomes truly unlistenable in parts, and while having a few hints of genius, their occasional presence is not enough to save this piece of pretentious drivel.