Review Summary: Waking up the out-of-touch hipsters, courtesy of Matt Bellamy.
Muse. The Illuminati’s best kept secret.
No, I’ll take that back; Muse probably isn’t much of a secret anymore. Everyone knows them now. The Resistance acknowledges they aren’t a secret anymore. I mean, here’s a band, selling out 70,000 seat stadiums but yet go relatively unnoticed across the pond, as the Brits say.
The Illuminati is a myth, anyway; but the amount of media coming from their rumored membership is enough to skyrocket their fame to even greater heights.
And now that Muse hit it big “across the pond” the die-hards turn their back on them.
Just because they attempted something a little grandiose.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with The Resistance; just that it’s commercial. The fans from the Origin of Symmetry era jacking off to pictures of a red-haired Matt Bellamy with the spiky hair throwing his guitar at their bassist’s head (Chris Wolstenhomme) are gone. What’s left, then, is a band that’s been commercial from the very beginning acknowledging their commercial status and releasing a commercial album true to their roots.
Some say it’s selling out.
In a way, it could be construed as selling out; Uprising is a massively commercial song, and that tour was a commercial money-grub, let me tell you. Yet, a three part symphony isn’t commercial, nor is a synthpop song on a rock album, nor is a song about a covered up government conspiracy, nor is a song sung halfway in French.
So whether or not you say The Resistance is commercial is beside the point; Muse has at least tweaked their sound slightly to get popular in America. And I, for one, welcome Muse’s commercialization in America. Muse managed to bring progressive and experimental to the mainstream once again, something not accomplished since the days of Pink Floyd (like to argue that Muse isn’t progressive? I’ll go toe-to-toe with you in the comments section). Muse brought rock music that isn’t recycled riffs like American Idiot to the pop world. Muse brought rock to the bull*** that is the Grammys. The best part is that they sacrificed very little.
To the people who say The Resistance was sell out: I can admit it, they made commercial strides. But they didn't sell out completely. So to the people emphatically declining Muse didn't strive for commercialism, I'll say that if you can honestly tell me that Uprising, in all it’s basic, simplistic glory, isn’t fist-pumping gold meant for sports games similar to Queen’s "We Will Rock You", I’ll be the first to call you a flat-out liar. Uprising is a basic mishmash of influences with an undeniably catchy chorus, infectious synthesizer, and a galloping drum beat that won’t go away. And much like Queen’s News of the World (the album featuring "We Will Rock You"), the stadium anthem is the most basic song on the album.
But the rest of the album skews things. The rest of the album isn't sell out material, or commercial in the least bit; because when Muse return to their technical, hard-rocking roots, they still do it better than their contemporaries. "MK Ultra" is the best song they’ve written since "Stockholm Syndrome", the piercing guitar line (yes, that’s a guitar line distorted to oblivion) counting down to one of Matt’s best vocal performances. Then there’s the gritty "Unnatural Selection", the hinging point of the entire album; a cluster of Muse’s many styles and phases riding on an organ and shredding guitar riffs.
Then what's confounding are songs like "Guiding Light" "Eurasia", "I Belong to You" or "Undisclosed Desires". The mainstream isn't going to bite on the cheese 80s anthem "Guiding Light" or the utterly ridiculous Queen rip-off "United States of Eurasia", both of which are alright songs. But it takes some balls to throw in the Maroon 5-in-French "I Belong to You" (yeah, that's a clarinet solo) or the Depeche Mode sound-alike "Undisclosed Desires". When the album is marketed as prog rock, pop songs like these may confound or irritate mainstream audiences looking for songs like "Uprising". But they don't get that, they get the cluster of influences that The Resistance is. Then to end it all, you have a fifteen-minute three-part closing suite that is reminiscent of what Rush used to do back in the day; sparse vocals, extended introductions, lots of piano, and a setup like a symphony. That doesn't seem very commercial.
I, for one would much rather see the public listening to Muse than Ke$ha. And that’s what’s happening, Muse is bringing rock back to a mainstream audience. They're a household name everywhere. Now, once again, whether that’s good or bad is up to you. For the album’s length Muse combines, very loosely I might add, pop, rock, metal, and progressive into a concept album surrounding love and a dystopian future. When is the last time the mainstream bit into something this thick?
I don’t think it’s fair to say that Muse is turning their back on who made them, the old fans, because the live shows are more than friendly to the old fan and The Resistance has enough to keep the old fan hanging around; but in the process creating a moderately commercial, ridiculous concept album that is exactly everything what rock was thirty years ago; bombastic, pomp, ridiculous, and fun. Look at their stage set-up, Bellamy’s attitude and their outfits. They don’t take themselves too seriously; there’s a video of them laughing in studio at the vocal effects in The Resistance. Isn’t that what Queen did in their day? Is it fair to call Muse the Queen of our day? It’s fair; because as they’ve progressed, they’ve come under the same fire, the same controversy, but remained a public phenomenon that is a live force to behold. It sounds similar, I know.
That’s because it’s true.
The Resistance is an undeniably catchy, rousing, challenging, progressively included pop/rock album that brought something new to the mainstream. Whether you think it’s good or not is purely subjective opinion, but I can point out what makes The Resistance good, and a success. Can you?