Review Summary: A Night of Symmetry.
Somewhere along the line, Muse jumped the shark and the “hip and cool” crowd ultimately decided that this album, Origin of Symmetry wasn’t very good. Nor was Absolution. Nor was Black Holes and Revelatons. Despite the critical praise, the music snobs who once praised the ground Muse walked on, now spit on that ground.
And this is a freaking joke.
Origin of Symmetry is damn good. Muse is a damn good band. Just because Muse isn’t your little cult band anymore doesn’t mean they suck now. Origin of Symmetry doesn’t suck and never sucked--people praised it like a masterpiece until The Resistance came out. So, in a way, I’m disgusted. Because Origin of Symmetry is freaking awesome.
New Born is like a neutered dog live, but is beyond incredible to open up the album. The way the piano scales up and down through the broken chords before spiraling into the grinding, metallic guitar riff combined with falsetto outbursts and catchy chorus lines. It’s utterly ridiculous, of course. Utterly ridiculous in the same way that, say, a pretentious ass-wipe of a band like Arcade Fire would be. Except Muse isn’t a pretentious ass-wipe of a band. Muse is damn good.
And it sounds like I’m on the defensive here, right? It’s because I am on the defensive. Throw the negs at me, but a simple pop song like Plug In Baby only comes along once in a blue moon. Piercing feedback, the catchiest guitar riff ever and an absolute chorus explosion combined with some of Matt’s best vocals makes the song a modern pop rock song for the ages. Yet, people still hate.
Let me dive deeper into the depths of the album now to show why Origin of Symmetry will always hold its spot as one of alternative’s better albums. Because, never before, had a band successfully thrown piano with clunky distorted basslines, sped up guitar riffs, synthesizers and an obnoxious falsetto (see Micro Cuts) into a blender and succeeded. Showbiz was like a strip tease; a basic modern rock album with no frills--like The Bends without Fake Plastic Trees or Street Spirit--but Origin of Symmetry goes right ahead and gives The Bends the middle finger and eclipses that sound (they never would eclipse it again). Sliding from melancholic ballads that simply bleed hysteria (Space Dementia) and paranoia spiced up with guitars and noise to seemingly angry rockers (Hyper Music) or disco-inspired punkish anthems (Bliss) the album runs for thirty minutes with the noblest of ease. Bellamy has been unfortunately compared to Thom Yorke, but I prefer Bellamy’s vocals as his are far more lively and less whiny; there’s almost an operatic tone to the way he sings. And I’ll say this straight out, the first seven tracks on this album may be the strongest beginning to any album I’ve ever listened to. I mean, the beginning to this album is just pure adrenaline and energy, something, really, you can’t describe until you’ve heard the album.
Somehow I’ve gone this far without referencing one of the best constructed songs of the last few decades; Citizen Erased. Piano mixed with heavy metal riffs, high-pitched falsetto and a lengthy breakdown doesn’t really look good on paper, but Citizen Erased is the older brother to Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. There, I said it. Yes, Paranoid Android came out first and is very similar with an “epic” quality to it. But, I mean, damn, have you heard Citizen Erased? That bass hits hard and Matt’s vocals jump back and forth from a low register to his high falsetto with ease while the guitars grind nastily over the thudding bassline. For the beginning, it seems like a regular Muse song--piano, guitars, crazy vocals, keyboards--but then it spirals into a slow, dreamy breakdown, before getting loud again, spitting out a solo, and ending on an emotional piano note. I mean, what else can be said about this song? There’s not much.
But after the first seven songs, the album kind of tails off into the land of mediocre and average. The ending, except for the typical “epic” piano number to close the end, is full of average Showbiz rejects. Feeling Good should have never been included, it’s a simple cover that ruins the legitimacy of the album as a piece of art. But, the album never loses its flow and always holds up; it just seems kind of “meh” towards the end.
It’s different than their later albums. It’s bombastic, but not huge and over-the-top like Absolution or The Resistance. Some say that’s good. Some have just discredited it because you hate The Resistance. How stupid can you get? To concede here, yes, opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one. Doesn’t change the fact that if you can’t see the seeming brilliance bursting from this album you are either inept or simply not paying attention. This is alternative rock played as it was meant to be played from the get-go. There’s a reason that Muse is one of the most respected music acts by the artists in the industry--there’s a reason why they win awards even though their music is absolutely bonkers--there’s a reason why The Resistance sold a bajillion records with a 20-minute symphony to close the album--Muse is the Queen of our generation. Like it or not, I’m pretty damn sure Queen was backed into a corner by the “cool” critics much like Muse, only to come out as one of the greatest bands in rock history. And Origin of Symmetry is where it all began for Muse.
And, again, remember; opinions are like buttholes, we all have them.