Muse
Showbiz


3.5
great

Review

by IsolatedSymmetry USER (3 Reviews)
November 27th, 2019 | 27 replies


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 20 years after its release, Muse’s ambitious debut holds up just as well as their classic albums and remains essential Muse listening

After years of teasing, the massive Origin of Muse boxset, a collection of early Muse demos, B-sides and remasters of Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry, finally has a release date: 6 December 2019. Its release is to coincide with the 20 year anniversary of the band’s debut album, Showbiz. With that in mind, and before we get to hear the remastered version, I thought I’d take a look at how the album holds up in 2019. The bands’ sound has evolved considerably since 1999, to the extent where a Muse fan at the turn of the millennium is unlikely to recognize certain tracks from 2018’s Simulation Theory as being performed by the same trio. So, how does Showbiz hold up 20 years on?

Pretty well, in my opinion. That’s not to say some tracks show their age- Muscle Museum, Sober and Overdue especially sound a bit dated in 2019. Despite this, the quality of songwriting and performance from each band member still stands out as a bold first statement. By 1999 the band had already been together for well over 5 years, and it shows: they sound tight, with the drums and bass gelling perfectly and, when combined with Matt Bellamy’s impressive guitar and piano skills and amazing vocal range, they sound way more than the sum of their parts. It’s a testament to the quality of these musicians that as a 3 piece they make more noise than, say, the Foo Fighters, who have 3 guitarists.

Despite the striking performances from all the members, it is Matt’s vocals that steal the show on this album for me. Perhaps it is too obvious to need stating, but Showbiz showcases Matt’s voice in its rawest, most youthful form heard on any Muse album. While OOS contains my favourite Bellamy vocal performances, Showbiz certainly gives it a run for its money. The vocal distortion effects are a-plenty, but not in a gimmicky or over-indulgent way. They take songs to the next level during climaxes, perfectly displayed in the title track and in the choruses of Uno. The falsetto at the end of Showbiz remains one of Matt’s most impressive (which is saying something), and is nicely balanced by the more gentle falsetto near the end of the closing track, Hate This And I’ll Love You. Showbiz also contains the beautiful Escape; the song’s lyrics are inspired by Matt’s father and is one of the most vulnerable vocal performances Matt has ever given. It also contains some of his most direct lyrics. While songs later in their career had similarly personal lyrics, they tend to be shrouded within more bombastic, Orwellian themes (e.g. on The Resistance). It is rare for Matt to be so honestly explicit in his lyrics, which makes Escape still stand out in 2019.

Speaking of lyrics, they have never been Muse’s strong point. Defector from 2015’s Drones gave us some shockers such as, “Your blood is blue, and your mind's turned green, and your belly is all yellow”, and “Free, yeah I’m free, from society, you can’t control me, I’m a defector”. Compare the latter with the lyrics from the title track on Showbiz: “Controlling my feelings for too long // They make me dream your dreams// They make me scream your screams.” No Bob Dylan, for sure, but much better than the cringe-worthy lyrics all Muse albums put out in the 2010s contain. Even the sillier lines (“I have played in every toilet, but you still want to spoil it”- Muscle Museum) still have some youthful charm to them.

The more stripped-back ballads Unintended and Falling Down are among the best the band has ever released, on a par with Blackout and Exogenesis Part III. They also display the raw beauty of Matt’s young voice, showing that the band did not overly rely on distortion effects to achieve their unique sound. Showbiz also has perfect opener and closer tracks, which, in my opinion, is a feat Muse continued to pull off until The Resistance. The delicate falsetto in the bridge of HTAILY followed by the spacey guitar leads is one of the most emotional and powerful moments on the album, rivaling the earth-shattering climax of the title track. Speaking of the title track, it really is one of the most amazing songs I’ve heard on a debut album: its atypical song structure, its constantly intensifying build-up, culminating in an explosive climax of a guitar solo and falsetto wails, all the while sounding too huge to be coming from 3 people, makes it one of my favourite Muse songs.

In summary, Showbiz stands up as a great debut and among Muse’s best releases. While it doesn’t reach the epic heights of OOS or Absolution, it has some of Muse’s most essential songs, including Sunburn, Cave, Showbiz, Uno and HTAILY. It’s better than any album Muse have put out in the last decade. It’s raw yet well-performed, it has excellent song-writing, it contains some of Muse’s best ballads and epic climaxes, and enjoyable lyrics. It laid the groundwork for the albums to follow it in the 2000s, which would propel Muse to international fame. Despite being 20 years old, it feels less dated than more recent albums like 2012’s The 2nd Law. I look forward to hearing the remastered version and the demos and alternate takes that we’ll get on Origin of Muse.


user ratings (2176)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
1 of


Comments:Add a Comment 
ArsMoriendi
November 27th 2019


41276 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Disagreed, but good review.

sixdegrees
November 27th 2019


13127 Comments


you can tell a lot about someone's music integrity based on their opinion of this album - but there aren't many albums that reveal so much about people but this is one


Cimnele
November 27th 2019


2527 Comments


yeah this is one of their best albums for songwriting and authenticity. i just don't like the slow blues jams, there must be some sort of open-mic slot pub-band phase in their past or something

Demon of the Fall
November 27th 2019


34813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, pos. This stands up to scrutiny with greater resistance than anything they've released since Black Holes.

IsolatedSymmetry
November 27th 2019


67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the comments. This is my 2nd review. I should probably state that I have a bias towards Muse as they were my favourite band as a teenager. I tried to be as objective as possible here given that I hadn't listened to this album in a while and in general haven't listened to much Muse in the last year, but reading through it with fresh eyes it's clear there is a lot of bias on my part.



Still, I really enjoy listening to it. But I can see why some people would find about half the tracks pretty forgettable.

IsolatedSymmetry
November 27th 2019


67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Sixdegrees, what do you mean by music integrity? You mean their ability to objectively look at an album's merits?

IsolatedSymmetry
November 27th 2019


67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I also just spotted a mistake. In the third paragraph, I meant to refer to the falsetto at the end of Showbiz, not Uno.

Trifolium
November 27th 2019


39356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love their debut.

Nice review man! Have a pos.



If you want to edit your reviews you can by the way, just go to your own profile and choose the ''Edit my Uploaded Reviews/Albums'' option right below your avatar. Might want to change ''The more stripped-backed'' into ''The more stripped-back'' while adapting the Showbiz / Uno mixup ;-)

Egarran
November 27th 2019


34500 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

20 years omg I'm so old



But yeah the rawness here is precious.

Trifolium
November 27th 2019


39356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, an unapologetic sing along as loudly as you can under the shower kind of album that leaves you hyped up and with a rough throat.

There should be more of those.

facupm
November 28th 2019


11890 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Meh album, good review

facupm
November 28th 2019


11890 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Some good songs though

Icebloom
November 28th 2019


793 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Album never worked for me, but Muscle Museum might be my favourite song of theirs. Sunburn is nice as well.

Trifolium
November 28th 2019


39356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shee buuuuuuuuurnnns like the suuunnnnn 🎵🎵

Mesm277
November 28th 2019


1107 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely a few duds but Cave tho

kalkwiese
November 28th 2019


10486 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Caaaaause Iiiii was booooorn to destroooooooy yoooooooou!

IsolatedSymmetry
December 2nd 2019


67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Trifolium, thanks for spotting that mistake and for the help. Also, what does "pos" mean? :P

Pikazilla
December 2nd 2019


30399 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It means 'pooped on slayer'



An old sput catchphrase. Thrash metal is widely hated around here, and for a good reason.

Demon of the Fall
December 2nd 2019


34813 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pos relates to your review approval rating, currently it says...

'7 out of 7 thought this review was well written' at the top of the page, just below your summary. So that means you currently have attained 7 'pos' votes and zero 'negs' which is of course, very good.

Pika's comment doesn't even make sense as a joke, I mean why Pika? Just why?

Pikazilla
December 2nd 2019


30399 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Because, Demon. Simply because.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy