Review Summary: The Resistance is futile.
Whoring itself off of media plaudits, numerous awards for the band, previous albums, and the always-dreaded 'hype', The Resistance acts like an album that can hide it's flaws in the shadows and hope that the pretty lights, the glitz and the glamour can make it reach the much-acclaimed heights of the Muse albums before. An album that wants to raise the bar for all Muse releases for here on in. To be blunt, it can't do the former, and certainly doesn't do the latter. Shallow and flashy, it shows the signs of a band trying to do what they want, but only because everyone else wants them to. Trying too hard to please everyone as well as the band, the underlying question the album has to ask itself is "what's my appeal?"
It's difficult to give a positive answer to that question. Granted, the album is certainly theatrical, but whereas previous Muse theatrics were fun, this album seems to have lost a good sense of how to be enjoyable. Rather than have songs that are simple, that carry themselves well, and thus are fun and easy get along with, roughly half of the songs on the album seem to be cut in halves/thirds by long breakdowns of classical piano medleys. While previous songs like Citizen Erased had it's Chopin-styled middles, they had good juxtaposition to go with them, and unlike the songs on The Resistance, they didn't stop completely to include them; the flow remained, and so too the appeal. This ends up with The Resistance displaying pieces that seem very loose in terms of structure and flow, and this ultimately results in an uninteresting listen.
The Resistance doesn't seem to feature the strong, and more well-known characteristics of the band. Not one song showcases the band members at their best instrumentally. There's no Plug In Baby for Matt's guitar, no Hysteria for Chris' bass and certainly no Assassin for Dom on drums. Fair play to the band for branching into new stylistic avenues, but the much-loved sense of chaotic power seen in previous adventures seems to be missing, mainly through misguided production, absent guitars, and no real bass work.
Most of, if not all of the time, the album is trying too hard to live up to the band's flamboyant reputation, and in trying to be different, is far too indifferent in overall feel, and incoherent in flow. In trying to create an album designed to be listened to all the way though - a Kid A-esque experience, if you will - Matt Bellamy has instead managed to create 9 pieces of music with no real conjuction and thus, direction.
Exogenesis is nice in concept and execution, but doesn't really add to the album when it should have done, mainly due to the rest of the album not really having a distinct character, as previously stated. The song itself is ashamedly not that captivating (although certainly dramatic, but again at the sacrifice of fun and appeal), and the fact that it is one piece, but disguised as three tracks to fill out the album, may show that the band seemed a little short on album-worthy material. A greater focus on writing more focused pieces of music rather than extravagant mini-concertos within at least half of the songs on the album would have provided more strength.
The first four songs provide the most consistent experience on the album, while the others, bar the enjoyable-but-still-pretentious I Belong to You, just seem to be lacklustre, as if they were original songs by a tribute band. And that's almost what Muse seem to be doing on this album; paying themselves tribute. But tributes are usually suitable and enjoyable, two adjectives you would associate with other Muse albums, but not this one. It's not difficult to resist listening to The Resistance. Oh, the irony.