Muse
Showbiz


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 9th, 2010 | 41 replies | 9,391 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Showbiz is at times forgettable, but it showcases some of the talent that sparked Muse’s meteoric rise to stardom.

Considering the success that Muse has achieved over the past decade, it is hard to imagine a time in which they did not dominate large portions of the modern music scene. Ever since Origin of Symmetry, the band’s popularity has risen exponentially, simultaneously receiving both massive acclaim for their musicianship and songwriting as well as criticism for a perceived lack of ingenuity. With the band’s debut album, Showbiz, the media generally focused on the latter, as Matthew Bellamy’s unmistakable vocal similarities to Thom Yorke were heavily criticized. Some even went as far as to write off Muse, calling them a cheap Radiohead cover band. Of course, Muse would go on to eventually blaze their own path, establishing more of an original identity in the process. But with Showbiz, we find ourselves back at the roots of this legendary band; the inception of Muse’s successful, storied career.

Showbiz is a decidedly energetic affair. Matthew Bellamy’s uncanny ability to create anything from insanely catchy guitar riffs to touching piano ballads is used to Muse’s benefit, although one could argue that they somehow infused even more energy into their later albums. “Sunburn” fits this description, and it is mostly achieved through fast-paced classical piano notes that create a bubbling under the surface effect before the arrival of the chorus. “Muscle Museum” is also a prime example of Muse’s energy, with a bass-heavy introduction that continues throughout as Bellamy blows the song wide open with a crunching guitar riff and epic falsetto:

Can you see that I am needing
Begging for so much more
Than you could ever give
And I don’t want you to adore me
Don’t want you to ignore me
When it pleases you
And I’ll do it on my own

The incorporation of more restrained guitar strumming in the bridge helps to highlight the song’s climax, showing an element of songwriting ability that developing artists are rarely cognizant of. Muse shows right off the bat that they know not only how to construct good music, but also how to arrange it.

The band also shows a knack for making slow, thoughtful ballads on Showbiz. In most instances, they reveal this skill in small portions of otherwise grandiose rock songs. For example, the slower parts of “Uno” and “Overdue” illustrate Matthew Bellamy’s aptitude for piano balladry. One song in particular, though, stands at the forefront. “Falling Down” shows a sensitive side both musically and lyrically to Muse that isn’t present anywhere else on the debut, and it serves as a stepping stone to similar future songs such as “Ruled by Secrecy” and “Soldier’s Poem.”

The main issue that Muse encounters on Showbiz is a lack of variation from the rather rigid aforementioned structure. Many of the songs have a tendency to follow the same formula: piano/acoustic introduction followed by an explosive guitar riff accompanied by Bellamy’s falsetto chorus vocals. It works extremely well in some songs (Showbiz, Muscle Museum) but falls rather flat in others, such as the closing track “Hate This & I’ll Love You.” As a result, the songs have a tendency to grow tiring and/or sound like they all mash together. When this occurs, each individual song becomes less memorable and the album as a whole suffers. With that said, a few songs stray from the formula and still manage to work simply because they are catchy as hell. “Fillip” and “Uno” are both prime examples, as their choruses seem to overshadow the technical aspects of the songs. That isn’t to say that they are poorly written, because it is actually quite on the contrary. These songs just show Muse coming into their own with music that is slightly more accessible, i.e. memorable. And I’ll be damned if that isn’t Muse’s exact forte.

As a whole, Showbiz is a very focused debut album. In fact, it may be so focused at times that it forgets to branch out. While this may serve as one of the album’s few downsides, it also shows that Muse has the patience to construct quality songs that do not always attempt to rush to the climax, creating a more enjoyable listen in the process. Through the many talents of frontman Matthew Bellamy, as well as near-flawless execution from the entire band, Showbiz displays a great deal of the diverse talents possessed by each member of the band. Perhaps more importantly, it gave Muse a solid foundation to start from as they began to ascend towards prominence.



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user ratings (1504)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Skimaskcheck
June 9th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

man i actually think this is such an underrated record, not a bad song here.
Black Holes and onwards was just so disappointing.
Falling Down is probably my favourite song here, i'm glad you named it as a standout, and good review!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is going to be my first discog review, so constructive crit. is much appreciated.

It took me a while to get into Muse, especially this album. It isn't their worst, obviously...but it has so much to live up to for people who heard either origin of symmetry, absolution, or black holes before this (just as i had).

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2010



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review. Album is decent, but I just cant look past the Radiohead similarities personally. Obviously this became far less of a problem from here on in.

Apollo
June 9th 2010



10266 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fantastic review! wow! so well written! pos

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@ali: yeah, their striking similarity to radiohead (esp. vocally) is what turned me off from this record when i first heard it.

luckily, as you said, every album from here on gets better...well at least until the resistance but i'll verbally destroy that album when it comes time to review it.

Nagrarok
June 9th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like your writing style. Just one thing though:

The Muse Discography, Part 1


I used to do this as well with my discogs, but it's really only in the way of a good read and you would do well to leave it out.

Muse is:
Matthew Bellamy - vocals, guitars, keyboards
Chris Wolstenholme - bass guitar, backing vocals
Dominic Howard - drums, percussion, synthesisers


I always do this as well, but it looks much better at the back than at the front.

Pos'd. Weren't you going to do an APC discog?

Apollo
June 9th 2010



10266 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

seriously dude you have a way with words. Fucking excellent. Looking forward to future reviews.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@nagrarok: those are both good points. i'll def. consider leaving out the "muse discog, part whatever" in the future, but i figured since this is the first in a long line of reviews, it'll rope people in to keep on following along.

also, it is funny what you mentioned about putting the band members at the back. i wrote it out both ways and decided i like it better at the front. personal preference, though, i guess.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and i was going to do APC...I started writing the review for mer de noms and just got a writer's block. i may still do APC in the future, but it won't be any time soon.


Foxhound
June 9th 2010



4570 Comments


nice review, Absolution is the only Muse album I've listened to though.

Nagrarok
June 9th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i'll def. consider leaving out the "muse discog, part whatever" in the future, but i figured since this is the first in a long line of reviews, it'll rope people in to keep on following along.


That's exactly what I was thinking before too, but a comment will be enough. People that are interested in the discography will follow along anyway. I always put 'To be continued' at the very bottom, that's enough. The point about putting those two things at the top is that they create an immediate break from the writing itself, which is what a reader will want to get into immediately. Just a little piece of adviced from sputnik's most experienced reviewer when it comes to discographies ;).

Skimaskcheck
June 9th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

honestly i think you should just completely get rid of the whole 'the line-up is...' section

it looks amateur in my opinion, and it's kinda trivial. that's just what i think though, entirely up to you of course!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haha well i appreciate it. i really want to use this discog to hone in on my writing skills, so i'll take any advice into consideration for my next review.

Nagrarok
June 9th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and i was going to do APC...I started writing the review for mer de noms and just got a writer's block. i may still do APC in the future, but it won't be any time soon.


Haha, I've had that before too. Best to switch to something else indeed.

You seem to have taken another habit of mine: putting a member of the band which' discography you're reviewing in your avatar.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great minds think alike

Lelle
June 9th 2010



2150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review. Don't want to rush you but when is the next one coming up? :P

Nagrarok
June 9th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

honestly i think you should just completely get rid of the whole 'the line-up is...' section

it looks amateur in my opinion, and it's kinda trivial.


I forgot about saying that. The very reason I include that in my discog reviews is that they often feature a changing line-up, thus to clarify who's playing on the album. For Muse, it is indeed really not needed, as they've kept their formation so far and everybody knows who's in the band.

tiesthatbind
June 9th 2010



7371 Comments


I know I always compliment your reviews, but seriously, this is one of your best. This reads really well, and although this is the only Muse album I haven't heard yet (which I will very soon fix), I got a great impression of what the album sounds like.

Keep up the great work with the rest of the discography.

Yeah and what Nag said about the line-up. I do it for DT cause their line-up changed several times.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2010



15339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@lelle: i'm not sure myself, but usually i turn reviews out pretty fast...id say within a week or if i get busy 2 weeks.

@nagra: good point about their line-up. i'll remember that for my next review

Nagrarok
June 9th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good point about their line-up. i'll remember that for my next review


There's also this thing call edit your albums/reviews. It's really useful, you should use it ;)



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