Review Summary: This is an album showing maturity but also the boring side-effects that plague maturity. It's a revelation in some areas, and a disgrace in others.
This album confuses me. It's high spots are high, higher then they've ever been, but it's lows are woeful, and often make you feel like Muse have lost something. It's an album speaking of Resistance (no ***), telling stories of holding out against governments, bankers, or whoever pisses of Matt Bellamy. Or, rather more worryingly, the general population of Muse fans that Matt sees.
It's an album of rather annoying lyrical theme, often begging the question of whether you should actually take it seriously or not. Of course, it's common knowledge that the world is due for great change rather soon, but is this the way it shall happen? New world order is an intriguing and rather fascinating topic, but not one to base 11 songs on. In any case, there are some rather rubbish lyrics on this album, such as on the opener, Uprising.
I can always picture Matt Bellamy playing this one, singing into the microphone, playing away as if everyone's looking at him. It's a bit annoying, especially when you think it's died and then that recurring, bouncy bass brings it back to life. On the whole it isn't a bad song, with a great drum beat, not-bad-but-catchy-bass and some lovely synths. But Matt just seems to take it too far over the top for it's own good. It's essentially a three minute song that he's squeezed out to five minutes just to annoy people
Such is not the case with the next single; a five minute song that is actually deserving of the five minutes of the album it takes. Resistance is a multi sided beast, with a spooky verse showing off the same greatness of synth as in Uprising, but also adding some heartbeat bass, a great piano riff and some brilliant drums. The Resistance really seems like a much better drum album then the other Muse offerings; more progressive, effective and catchy drums seem to be being used, rather then the standard and bland drums used in earlier albums. This definitely shows in Resistance. In fact, Resistance represents one of the greatest moments on the album, and in Muse history. With an awesome bass riff and brilliant singing throughout the bridge, a very catchy tune and some great drumming, it's a very mature and brilliant piece, but again, plagued with lyrics an 8 year old could write.
The album takes a very strange turn, with the Timbaland-esque, dancy and minimalistic Undisclosed Desires. It actually works rather well, even if it does stray out of normal muse (it has plucking violins, slap bass and a keytar, if thats any signal). It seems to bounce along very catchily, but will seperate the Muse fans from the music fans. At least the lyrics aren't about revolution or resistance; but they are still quite childish, and very cliched. The chorus, however, is not badly written. It's just the rest of the song that's lyrically annoying I guess.
This is followed by the Queen rippoff of the century, United States Of Eurasia. This song is satisfactory, and at least it showcases some decent lyrics. However, it's horribly obvious Queen ripping and the terrifyingly obvious out-of-place-ness of both Matt's voice and Chris's bass amount to a rather mediocre song. A reasonable listen, per say, just not a particularly astonishing one.
It segues directly into Guiding Light, an overdone masterpiece. You can probably get annoyed to death by pompousness, and if you can, then this song is dangerous. However, akin to OOS's Megalomania, by going over the top, they've managed to make it work. Matt's powerful, soulful bellowing is held aloft by strong, meaty drums, a graceful and slow bass line and a string backing. This amounts to a song of grace, power and beauty that fires along powerfully.
Unnatural Selection comes next, showcasing everything that Muse have ever done. Literally. It's attempting to re-create something that's long lost, with church organ akin to Megalomania from OOS, a riff straight from New Born, and a setup exactly the same as Citizen Erased. A pillar of strength as far as a song goes, but it deteriorates because of the fact it's actually ripping off itself, as you realise about less then a minute into the 7-minute bemoth. Otherwise, it's not such a bad thing, with lyrics that actually seem to make sense for once and a great, bluesy guitar section in the middle.
The album's highest moment is here, with MK Ultra, a brilliant showcase of everything Muse does well. From the moment the powerful, intricate and catchy guitar riff kicks in to the moment it ends, you'll be bombarded with strong bass, great lyrics, catchy tunes and a brilliant showcase of Matt's vocal range. However, the single most satisfying moment is when the words "We are losing control" are sung. Trust me; when you listen to it, you will know. It's easily the best song on the album and one of the best in Muse's history.
After the high of MK Ultra, the album hits its most pathetic low, with I Belong To You, a wave of disgustingly overdone synth bass, annoying cliche lyrics and smug poppiness that does not work in combination with Muse's tendency to overdo things. It frankly fails at its purpose (whatever that may be) and is only just worth the effort to hit next on your CD player. When you do this, you shall be greeted by what you were really waiting for: the 13 minute monster, Exogenesis Symphony.
Exogenesis contemplates what a world would be like if the concept of Panspermia had to be placed in action. Part 1 looks at the realization that life as we know it is over, Part 2 looks at pinning all your hopes on a group of people looking for a new planet, and Part 3 looks at the realization that it's all just going to happen again. If I'm honest, whilst a beautiful symphony and well worth a listen, or two, or many, the best part lies in the end, with Part 3. It kicks off with a Moonlight Sonata-esque piano ostinato, before gradually building up and descending into a dark and melancholy tune, with Matt and Chris singing a duet: "Why can't we start it over again? Just let us start it over again?". While this is sung to a beautiful tune, a beautiful backing and ends The Resistance most apocalyptically gorgeously and amazingly, you can't help but think it might be subliminal messaging to listen to the album again? For it is definitely an album that might require a few listens to get. So without further ado, i shall "start it over again" and delve back into a story of Resistance, beauty and brilliance, interspersed with occasional disappointment. But hey, nothings perfect?