Review Summary: A solid pop album but where is my muse?
Muse have come a long way since their inception in 1994 and have recently paid homage to their hometown, seaside town Teignmouth, with "A Seaside Rendezvous". Two heavily anticipated dates where muse elaborately presented their unheard (unleaked) new material and reacquainted the fans with reworked tracks from their early career. "A Seaside Rendezvous" is set to launch the European tour and pre-empts the release of the fifth full studio album "The Resistance" on the 14/09/09.
If "Black Holes and Revelations" released in 2007 thrust us into a disco beat world of apocalyptic and despotic despair, the presumption for the The Resistance is that we have arrived. The Resistance submerges us into a series of dystopic fantasies where the human soul, streamlined by Bellamy's voice, is seen as the only redemption. Even though the political pragmatism of the lyrics is questionable and in some cases unintentionally comical, the vocals swell beautifully with symphonic activism in each track.
At first it takes a while to catch up with the abstract sonic scope of The Resistance. Uprising, the first single release from the album hits as a cross between Goldfrapp's "Train" and Blondie's "Call Me". Followed by the title track, a Radiohead "Kid A" synth wall introduces a distinctly ABBA induced euro pop melody. These odes provide a good hinge for the journey through the first half of the album as it adventurously sweeps wholeheartedly from pop to virtuoso piano a la Queen in "United States of Eurasia", a track which unashamedly echoes "Bohemian Rhapsody".
The Resistance proceeds into its second half with "Unnatural Selection". Introduced with a pipe organ it takes the form of Tom Waits meets ABBA's "Lay All Your Love on Me". The meat of the track, however, is distinctly Muse and revives the heavy guitar riff based impact of their "Origin of Symmetry" album. The momentum is more than enough to excite and is carried into the next track MK Ultra. Concluding the album is the three part symphony: "Exogenesis". Each part is a slowly evolving expression of chilling realism. The compliment of orchestral movements with guitar and piano work is beautiful, owing a great deal to the orchestration and virtuoso styling of Chopin and Rachmaninov, who play heavily in Bellamy's piano repertoire.
The foundation of "The Resistance" seems rooted in ABBA and Queen with the grandiose vision of progressive rock bands such as Rush and Pink Floyd. However, much of the album is propped up on the strength of these sources whilst the weaker lyrical elements for example "I Belong to You/Mon Caeur S'ouvre Ã* ta Voix" where Bellamy sings in French, are on the threshold of parody.
In essence "The Resistance" is a solid pop album. Bolstered by their huge record label (Warner) and their notoriety for extravagant live performances, this album like "Black Holes and Revelations" will surely receive widespread acclaim. It will doubtlessly leave many earlier fans wondering what happened to the creativity and spontaneity of their previous albums and whether they will see it again.