Review Summary: Kate Hudson continues her systematic de-mantling of Muse, one album at a time.
"The 2nd Law" was bound to be controversial. From the moment that Matthew Bellamy announced his ambitions to intertwine ‘brostep’ with their latest material, a storm of judgment has followed ever since. Hyperbolic statements such as ‘The 2nd Law is going to be the best/worst album of the decade’ were being made in rapid succession, well before the album’s initial release. Yet both of these statements are far from the truth. What Muse seemingly stumbled upon is not an album that will go down in history as being the definitive record of the 2010’s, nor a release that will see them become the laughing stock of society – instead they’ve reached that middle-ground that so many bands, when trying to change their sound, seem to end up. What Muse have manufactured with “The 2nd Law” isn’t particularly heartening for Muse fans, but for the first time in their relatively experienced career, the album isn’t entirely over-whelmed by the Matthew Bellamy show – a prospect that once delighted, but now disturbed – as perhaps a career in the spotlight for bassist, Chris Wolstenholme, is born.
The main problem Muse encounters in “The 2nd Law” is the simple fact that Muse attempt to shape an album full of singles and stand-outs. The lack of focus – which eventuates to a nearly non-existent flow – completely throws Muse off the scent of the complete record they’ve been searching for. There are good songs and there are bad songs, yet as a whole the release feels empty, as though there is no point to it other than to generate money, and for Bellamy to excrete his oft fragmented thoughts and feelings. Whereas The Resistance
had some, if minimal, sense of direction, “The 2nd Law” is much like an excited dog – running round and round in circles with no thought in mind -other than to keep running.
Yet individually, the songs on The 2nd Law are a major step up from Bellamy and his space-men’s efforts on The Resistance. Sure, “Panic Station,” is one of the worst songs anybody will have the misfortune of hearing, and “Unsustainable” is downright embarrassing, but there is the instrumentally creative “Animals,” and the refreshing ‘Bellamy-breaker’ in “Liquid State,” which do their best to cancel out the abominations this album has to offer. Muse have always been thereabouts with their instruments, and “The 2nd Law” does nothing to break or improve this streak. As well as providing nothing incredibly innovative to the modern music industry (except ‘dubstep’ on guitars) “The 2nd Law” is plagued by inconsistent and often lacklustre song-writing. The first half of Madness is – for lack of a better word- lazy, yet it eventually explodes into a motion of colour and emotion as the track comes to a brief, yet dramatic, life.
Muse’s ambitious, and rather egotistic 5th LP is not the return to form die-hard Muse fans will have been hoping to hear. The messy congregation of ideas “The 2nd Law” addresses is much like a poorly cooked Lasagne – discouraging to look at, yet devourable, if consumed one piece at a time. Throughout the album it seems as though Muse are desperately fighting through the dark to find that spark and idealistic creativity that accompanied their first few releases. It’s time for everyone to let go of Muse’s energetic space-rock era, and concede that they are a different band – and perhaps it’s time for Muse to too.