Review Summary: A variety of different elements and influences come together in an above par album.
While not the most amazing album in the world, I stood impressed by The 2nd Law after my first listen. A couple of listens later I had a pretty good idea to what was going on, and figured I might as well review it online, since half the music community are intent on hating on this album as fiercely as possible. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm just gonna make up a bunch of crap and try to big up the album in the ratings, but I still feel like it deserves a bit more credit. So lets move on...
Supremacy kicks off the album with a good blend of Muse's signature symphonic alternative rock sound. We get a lot of good riffs and a great solo in this near 5-minute opener to the album, and Bellamy's distorted cries of 'Supremacy' sound awesome too. Overall, this is a good track, and is likely to please the fans of Muse's Origin of Symmetry/Absolution era. 3.5/5* (5 being the highest)
Madness - a song which caused polarized reactions from critics and fans alike, and to be honest it's not hard to see why. While I actually now enjoy Madness, I must admit at first I was unimpressed, but have now come to appreciate the minimalistic approach to the song, the build up in sonic layering from the first 'ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-maaad-maaadness' to the final climax of the song. The lyrics, while relatively simple, also invoke a certain amount of emotion from the listener with their simple but meaningful message regarding a couple in a relationship fighting - it's 'madness'. 3.5/5*
Panic Station - possibly the funkiest, sexiest song Muse have ever released. Panic Station, while drawing from obvious influences such as 70s and 80s pop and funk, has worked it's way into becoming one of my very favorite Muse tracks, which surprises me considering I never actually did enjoy funk that much. Nevertheless, Panic Station is catchy and sexy, and features an awesome guitar solo and a beat that is bound to get you going no matter how much you find yourself saying 'Is this really MUSE?' 4.5/5*
Prelude and Survival. Ah yes.. the Olympics song. I have remained torn on deciding whether this track is terrific or terrible since I first heard it and still do to this day, so I'm going to review this one focusing on pros and cons.
For starters, the lyrics are veering on awful. Deliberately written to be as melodramatic as possible, perhaps, but that still doesn't mean they're good. The orchestral background is also incredibly annoying at some points as this song tries to be as huge and meaningful as possible, and, to be quite blunt, fails miserably. There are redeeming features however; the epic guitar solo - quite possibly one of Matt's best, and Dom Howard's drumming on this track also stand out as one of this song's strong points, but the remainder of the song remains in that mixed balance of love and hate. I could never figure out if I liked it anyway. 2.5/5*
Follow Me trades in the rock vibe for a more electronic pop energy, with surprisingly good results. The vocals, bass and beats on this song all sound great, and with just that little added flavor of dub-step in the background (not too much, just enough to compliment the dynamic of the instrumentals) Follow Me stands as a good strong track and will definitely be worth listening to more than once. 4/5*
Animals follows Follow Me (see what I did there) nicely with an intro melody, and before long we are faced with one of Muse's best ever tracks, bar none. With the song's relatively simple and classic structure of the rhythmic drum beat, complimented by some of the best sounding lead guitar I've heard in a long time, and a soft keyboard lullaby melody looping in the background, Animals takes you on a soothing journey to a final epic climax as Bellamy contrasts the dreamlike vibe with soft vocals but harsh lyrics such as,
'Advertise, Downsize, Allure
Come on and do all a favor.'
A truly brilliant track and one of my favorites to date. 5/5*
Explorers - Now we come to a track I have a great deal of difficulty in listening to, simply because I feel that Explorers is pointless. After two fantastic stand-alone tracks such as Follow Me and Animals, which both share a similar vibe to each other but still manage to stay different and unique, why follow that with a third, lesser track? Don't get me wrong, the band obviously spent a great deal of time to make this a good track, but on The 2nd Law, especially right after Follow Me and Animals, it seems like a forced effort to make something special, instead of a natural progressive step for the album; not quite a clone of Follow Me but not original enough to add anything of worth to the album either. The song's one and only moment of glory hits around the 3:38 mark, when Bellamy finally stops moaning 'Freeeee me' and the song enters a sort of vocal crescendo for about 20 seconds. The rest of the track, on the other hand, feels uninspired and rather boring. 2/5*
Big Freeze - Muse's take on U2 seems like a bit of an assumption to make about his song, but I'm not gonna lie. Despite the fact I have heard very little of U2 and don't listen to them (I'm not against them, just never got into them), there is no denying that this song sounds VERY U2. Whether or not that's a bad thing doesn't really matter here though, what matters is the song, And to be honest, this song doesn't really do it for me in the first 30 seconds or so, until it properly breaks into the beat and gets into it, and even then I'm still wary of it. Like 30 Seconds To Mars' 'Closer To The Edge', it's obvious that the band tried to make this song shine as much of possible, but personally I don't feel it. Good solo though. 3/5*
Save Me - Wolstenholme lucked out here with the fact that this song didn't turn out to be almost annoying. Not because he lacks talent, far from it, but because we are still a fresh 4 and a half minutes since hearing Explorers and before that, Follow Me. Having 3 songs on the same album, a mere 5 tracks apart, with very similar lyrical hooks (Follow Me, Free Me, and Save Me), even if they had all been A-grade fantastic songs, is dangerous, and could have easily ruined Save Me's potential. Luckily, however, Save Me comes forward as a breath of fresh air, not only for the album, but for Muse's career also, as bassist Chris Wolstenholme takes lead vocals and pours his heart and soul out after his struggle with alcoholism into what becomes a truly brilliant and beautiful song. 4.5/5*
Liquid State - Part two of Chris' shining 10 minutes as lead vocalist and my, my, he does do Liquid State justice. As a crunchy riff rolls in backed by Dominic Howard's ever impressive drumming, Chris angrily shuns the person he used to be while drunk in this awesome rock driven track. Also, Liquid State is perhaps one of the most unified Muse tracks ever to feature all of the band members strengths equally where Bellamy isn't in the spotlight, but you can still hear him crunching away on that dirty guitar riff. 4.5/5*
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable - Now let me just first say that I've never actually been that much of a dub-step fan, but have come to appreciate it when it's not just used as a mere gimmick in, say, a modern pop song. Unsustainable, on the other hand, impresses considerably, especially considering the fact that instead of programmed bass wobbles, the dub-step elements to the song were created using instruments - a feat which deserves recognition after dub-step's history perceived as someone simply pressing play on a laptop. 4/5*
The 2nd Law: Isolated System - as a finisher to the album, Isolated System is beautifully haunting. The melodies are both sonic and wonderful, yet eerie, and the electronic pulsing beat in the background adds just enough energy to the track to prevent it from becoming a dull monotone after the first minute. Even so, this track seems to state one thing loud and clear - 'We will be back.' 4/5*
Well there you are guys, I know track-by-track reviews are shunned a little on here but that's just how I prefer to do things so now I'm handing it over to you - judge my review accordingly and constructive criticism is always appreciated. Thanks for reading.