Muse
The 2nd Law


1.5
very poor

Review

by Polyethylene USER (14 Reviews)
October 5th, 2012 | 38 replies | 3,468 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Schlock 'n' roll.

18 of 19 thought this review was well written

English drama-rock trio Muse have enjoyed a large, perhaps disproportionate, amount of commercial and critical success in the last few years. They win every live act award in the cosmos one year after another, reinforcing their NME-bred reputation for being the last rock band out there really trying to have fun. The big problem with The 2nd Law however, their highly-anticipated sixth album, is that for the most part, it isn't any fun at all.

Let's start at the beginning. Extravagant opener 'Supremacy' is easily the most hard-hitting thing they've written in years. What a shame then, with all its juggernaut riffs and swagger and marching band snares, that it never amounts to a good song. For most of its five minute duration it simply plods along, forever leading the listener to believe something extraordinary is about to happen. It never does. Bellamy howls the song title through a traffic cone a couple times, and that's it. For an album so controversially considered to be influenced by dubstep, The 2nd Law's “drops” are surprisingly lacklustre.

Muse, as always, spice things up by throwing a few new flavours into the mix. This admirable approach has been successful in the past; Origin Of Symmetry's chugging Morello-inspired guitars gave that album a metallic lustre, just as Black Holes & Revelations' flashes of flamenco and electronica lent it an exotic feel. The 2nd Law's latest stylistic additions however are failures, ranging from baffling (the Reznor-tinged funk of 'Panic Station') to downright bad (the grating brostep of 'Unsustainable', although chances are you've already had that posted to your Facebook wall).

However, no song is as pompous, as gruelling, as unlistenable on The 2nd Law (or indeed any other Muse album) as the fifth track, 'Survival.' As blatantly written for the 2012 Olympics as 'Supremacy' was for Skyfall, it is the most obnoxious song by the most obnoxious band of the 21st Century. Histrionic guitars and chants from the Wehrmacht pile upon each other in a cacophonous heap, frontman Matt Bellamy all the while bellowing couplets as cliché as “I'll light the fuse... and I'll never lose.” Never before have I asked my stereo speakers to shut up out loud.

Bellamy's vocals on this album are the least impressive of his career, largely trading in his glass-shattering falsetto for ho-hum Bono impressions and crass attempts at being seductive. Squelching single 'Madness' in particular shows the inferiority of his chest voice, his hushed words sounding less like the whispers of a lover than the rasps of a sex offender at a bus stop. Go back to imitating Thom Yorke dude, seriously.

Many of the album's thirteen tracks blur past without leaving any real impression; 'Follow Me' is dubstep-tinged pop of the most generic, radio-friendly variety, whilst breezy Showbiz throwback 'Animals' is, by the album's bombastic standards, far too slight. Save for two back-to-back songs written and sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme (glossy ballad 'Save Me' and the more aggressive, Killing Joke-esque 'Liquid State'), the rest is just big, empty, run-of-the-mill Muse.

So how does this album work as a whole? It doesn't. To coin a term, The 2nd Law is Muse's “splat” album: an LP where any and all musical ideas are hurled against the canvas, generally at the cost of coherency and flow. Pink Floyd's Ummagumma is a classic example, whilst more recent specimens include Bloc Party's Four and Animal Collective's Centipede Hz. This approach can produce either a sumptuous sonic feast or a jumbled, inconsistent mess, The 2nd Law without a doubt the latter kind. Muse's “anything goes” mentality has, at long last, backfired.

Brostep? Go on. Bavarian beer-hall chants led by Freddie Mercury? Please. Giving the bassist lead vocals on two tracks? You bet! Let's even make them consecutive.

There is no thread running through the album, no underlying theme, save for a vague anti-establishment narrative spewed without irony from the mouths of the largest corporate rock band in the world today. Oh yeah, and some *** about thermodynamics.

This album should be Muse's downfall, but it won't be. It'll be bought regardless by their over-loyal fans, the same people that flood Wembley Stadium every time the band plays to “ooh” and “ahh” at their laser shows, those who believe excess can ever be a substitute for substance. It may even fare well critically, the British publications sure to award it an arbitrary four stars in reviews littered with garish nouns like “glam” and “stomp.” This album is rip-roaring “fun”. Boy, do these songs have “punch”!

Back in the real world, Muse have released their most bloated, incoherent and charmless album ever, its occasional glints of beauty (such as the final minute of 'Madness') nowhere near enough to justify wading through it all. Keep walking folks, there isn't even guilty pleasure to be had here.



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user ratings (966)
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2.6
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
MichaelSnoxall
October 5th 2012



12163 Comments


Spacing. You need it.

MeatSalad
October 5th 2012



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Get yo paragraph on, son.

Digging: Love - Forever Changes

Polyethylene
October 5th 2012



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Whoops, totally forgot. How can I edit it?

Digging: Casualties of Cool - Casualties of Cool

ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012



3448 Comments


Good review. I like the digs at NME because I was one of those who, at one point, used to read it, and I would always think "geez, would you get off these band's dicks already?!" Guess they're still the same 10+ years later huh?

With that said...SPACING! Big blocks of text are not appealing, and I'm sure 90% of people who click on this review won't bother to read it.

Never bothered with Muse (like Radiohead, they always seem like the ultimate hipster band, with the added flaw of being one of the ultimate fangirl bands, too) and I'm not about to start now.

ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012



3448 Comments


To edit, go to your profile, click on the 'Reviews' tab, and under your picture there should now be a line reading 'Edit reviews'. Click on that, then click on your review. Presto!

Dimor
October 5th 2012



1750 Comments


Man these 1 reviews are getting a tad ridiculous. Its not a very good album by any means, but its definitely not THAT bad. And i totally disagree about "Survival". Its pretty much the only track i love on this.

Polyethylene
October 5th 2012



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Thanks ReturnToRock, you're my hero.

ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012



3448 Comments


Here to help, my friend! Think of me as the jaded old curmudgeon taking budding young talents under his wing... ;)

Gyromania
October 5th 2012



15198 Comments


very good review.

Dimor
October 5th 2012



1750 Comments


Man, the lyrics on Survival really sucks though. I guess the instrumentation brought me in

DarthMann
October 5th 2012



13476 Comments


good review but its formatted fucking terribly

LifeAsAChipmunk
October 5th 2012



4854 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"Never bothered with Muse (like Radiohead, they always seem like the ultimate hipster band, with the added flaw of being one of the ultimate fangirl bands, too) and I'm not about to start now."

what

MeatSalad
October 5th 2012



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Just an ignorant statement, move along nothing to see here

ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012



3448 Comments


Well, back about 5-10 years ago, most of the girls I knew were like "OMG Muse" and all the hipsters I knew were like "OMG Muse Radiohead". So that kind of turned me off the band.

MeatSalad
October 5th 2012



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

That's an easy way to turn you off good music, well with radiohead at least

ReturnToRock
October 5th 2012



3448 Comments


Radiohead are different. I listened to some of their stuff (my Dad loved them) and just never saw what all the ado was about. I liked Creep, of course, and Karma Police was OK. Beyond that I just found it dull. And then after OK Computer they just became more and more preposterous, and more and more lauded, and I completely lost interest.

MeatSalad
October 5th 2012



14190 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I assume you don't dig electronic music

Polyethylene
October 5th 2012



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Radiohead live up to their hype, Muse don't.
Yeah Survival's lyrics are unbearable, seriously that song is a strong contender for the worst song I've ever heard.

Ethics
October 5th 2012



4112 Comments


i assume you're a queef

Polyethylene
October 5th 2012



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Kid A is their best album (big fan of electricity music).



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