Review Summary: A disjointed, disorganized mess that ends up imploding on itself.
Regardless of one’s opinion of their music, it’s impossible to deny that Muse is one of the most ambitious modern rock bands. From their inclusion of Rachmaninov-esque piano leads to their constant need to significantly change their sound from album to album, the band has always done what their contemporaries have feared to even attempt. Considering this, saying that their latest release, The Resistance
, is their most aspiring thus far is quite a significant accolade. Unfortunately, it seems that for the first time in their career, Muse overestimated their abilities and tried to create an album that they simply aren’t capable of making.
In it’s runtime of almost an hour, The Resistance
is filled with ideas. Fearless, hard-rockers, tender ballads, seductive pop songs, rousing anthems, and even a full-fledged symphony are all crammed into the record, and yet none of these ideas are ever fully developed, causing the whole album to feel disjointed and unfocused. Muse schizophrenically jumps from one style to the next with no warning or delicacy, causing the listener to quickly become confused and lost amidst The Resistance’s
innumerable mood swings. Due to the lack of musical, lyrical, or tonal consistency between, The Resistance
feels like a collection of songs, rather than one unit.
To further alienate listeners, The Resistance
lacks the spontaneity and ease found in the band’s past releases; instead, most of the album sounds forced. Muse tries to mix first lightweight pop (Uprising
) and then Bohemian Rhapsody-worship (United States Of Eurasia
) with serious political commentary, and this same Queen reverence is then mingled with a (horribly misinterpreted) Chopin nocturne. Later in the album, an upbeat, romantic ditty transitions into a rendition of a Saint-Saëns opera. Such moments are frequent throughout the album and, unsurprisingly, none of these endeavors are successful in the least.
Let’s pause for a moment to talk about Matt Bellamy’s performance of the two aforementioned classical pieces. Chopin’s nearly flawless Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 is one of the composer’s most famous and frequently-performed pieces. The bittersweet, loving nocturne also happens to be Chopin’s most often misinterpreted composition, with countless over-sentimental and insincere performances made by immature performers. Bellamy’s performance ranks among the worst. He is content with over-elongating every pause, remaining dynamically flat, and abusing rubato. Consequentially, the nocturne’s beauty is all but entirely gone. The sound of children’s laughter, static, and jet engines over top of Bellamy’s defecation on the nocturne makes the whole thing pretentious beyond belief. The Saint-Saëns opera fares slightly better, if only because Bellamy and his accent don’t entirely destroy the composition. Unlike the perfectly superfluous performance of the nocturne, the Saint-Saëns opera manages to be somewhat enjoyable.
Despite these flaws, The Resistance
contains some redeeming features. Uprising
, while lyrically vapid and rather generic, is an enjoyable and addicting hard-rocker. The title track, MK Ultra
, and Unnatural Selection
are obvious highlights, and rank among the band’s best material. The Symphony
, while rather pretentious, is quite beautiful and shows Muse finally succumbing to Bellamy’s affinity for classical music. Lastly, I Belong to You
is a pretty fun, if not very memorable tune. And yet, between these moments of salvation, the album meanders and succeeds only in boring (and in the case of Guiding Light
, annoying) the listener.
is certainly not without some virtue, and when one only listens to one song from the album at a time, it manages to be somewhat enjoyable. However, when listened to from beginning to end, Muse’s latest release is a colossal, overblown, pretentious failure that never becomes half of what it aims to be.