Review Summary: The 2nd Law plays as a genre-study and will most likely appeal to listeners who like to be challenged and/or are willing to buy into their search for new sound.
The 2nd Law is here and I have got to say, it is a challenging album to review! Muse is obviously in a transitional period from their melodramatic Broadway-like routes filled with large scale piano solos and dramatic energy; and, to put it lightly, are onto a more electronically influenced sound. The 2nd Law plays as a genre-study and will most likely appeal to listeners who like to be challenged and/or are willing to buy into their search for new sound.
Supremacy kicks off the album with a more traditional Muse sound similar to their Absolution/Black Holes days, which is a perfect way to ease die-hard Muse fans into the rest of The 2nd Law. The James Bond influence is blatant and the infamous high vocals are roaring at the hook along with great guitar work. It's a definite highlight! When Supremacy ends, the album takes a hard turn into experimental. Less seamless than the album opener, Madness is a great song with stellar production, but might throw some listeners off with how drastically different it is. The 2nd Law is better listened to as a compilation of songs rather than one finished product. Every song has its own personality and should be listened to individually, not as a whole. Panic Station is another perfect example of extreme change. The song is fun with a great bass line, its catchy hook, and wild vocal ad libs but it's almost impossible to brace yourself for the hard transitions between songs thus far.
Since I think I've established that the albums difficult to digest as a whole, I'm going to stop mentioning it (I know, Thank God!). Survival is next up and although its sarcastic and filled with epic energy, it is a take it or leave it song (I love it, by the way). Follow me is a descent attempt at dubstep and rock but the dubstep end of it feels undercooked, especially after listening to Unsustainable. The 2nd Law has great ambition which sometimes makes you feel like its too technical at times. Liquid State is the perfect example of bland. Chris's vocals don't have the same distinctive sound that can make a song stand out on its own (Not to say there's anything wrong with Chris' vocals). Instrumentally, Liquid State is great but has absolutely nothing that brings it out of its shell and ends up feeling like a song that sounded better on paper (it's enjoyable, just limited considering the rest of the album is rather diverse and experimental). Save me is a much better effort from Chris. Animals is another highlight that's pumped with a haunting chord progression and driving lyrics about greed and self-interest which is constantly pushing forward. People keep telling me that Big Freeze is a U2 knock-off, but I find it to be a very enjoyable addition with a stadium vibe and consistent lyricism. The last two songs are great instrumentals. Although Isolated System is probably better, I find myself listening to Unsustainable more. It acts as political and economical panic and is very intense on an epic scale before dropping into a power house guitar-step riff.
All in all, The 2nd Law is a great album filled with memorable tracks and forgettable tracks.......but none are bad (Except Explorers which is just cheesy). The genre exploration may prove too much for some and might leave more than a few old Muse fans hesitant to make the transition. However, I found myself enjoying this much more than The Resistance which is really all I wanted from their sixth album. And I got that and more.
Recommended Songs: Supremacy, Animals, Panic Station, Unsustainable,