MUSE is a band that I've been trying to putt my finger on for a while. Coming out with the very ambitious space rock, Radiohead inspired, "Showbiz" they got my interests engaged. I understand how people mark them off as a copy but I saw no reason to place that name on them, yet. Fallowing that with my favorite MUSE album, "Origin of Symmetry", they made them selves out to be a band that had found their sound, one they could call their own. I loved the aggressiveness and in my opinion, it had some of the most creative bass lines of the early 00s, especially the single "New Born". Sadly they fell hard on their next album; "Absolution" was the Radiohead copy everyone always uses against them, and I can't say I disagree. I heard a very clear "Ok Comp./Bends." influence on "O.O.S." but they took it to such a level that any of their songs could be confused with Radiohead's by a casual listener. I hated that album so much that their next just skipped by me and I didn't hear it until "Uprising" dropped from "The Resistance". I listened to "The Resistance", only because I loved the single, but I found MUSE once again copying, just another band. I'm really not a Queen fan and so the only reaction I could have, to an album ripping so much from their corner, was to rush back to their last album hoping for something better. "Black Holes and Revelations" was an album I can defiantly say sounded only like MUSE, not the same as the album that sounded like MUSE before, but still strictly MUSE.
So, we're clearly dealing with a band that has a very rocky past, with my career as a fan. One album I like, two I love, and two I hate; I hoped that this album would break that tie. I don't think MUSE did much to advance them selves from their last album. Almost every track here sound like it would have fit fine with anything on "The Resistance". "Survival" even has these background vocals that sound completely torn from Freddy Mercury's play book, along with "Supremacy" and "Explorers". "Panic Station" has a guitar riff that sounds way to close to the bass intro from "Another One Bites the Dust", to even call it a MUSE track. They even pull from a side of the 80s a lot of fans are guaranteed to hate. The only real difference between "Big Freeze" and U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is Matt's vocal.
I know that taking other peoples songs, and sound, is a long standing tradition in music, Just Look at Balkans and The Strokes. I'm just not hearing MUSE take these influences, or even when they take rhythms and sounds directly, in a way that is moving them in a unique direction. MUSE is a case of a band who wares their influences on their sleeves, and they've done it very well in the past, but the only thing they're adding to all these, over used 80s sounds, are the dub step wubs that are just carelessly layered over their instrumentals.
There are tracks that brake this mold but they don't even come close to saving the album for me. "Madness" is an electronic love song that gets more and more ambitious as it runs from very dub sounds, not dubstep just dub, to a full collage of instrumentation that easily meets the volume of their older material. "The 2nd Law Unsustainable", is pretty much just a dubstep song though the aimless drop is pretty underwhelming, especially when it sounds just like all the other dubstep productions flooding the market. "Animals" is a really smooth jam that sounds nothing like anything I've heard from MUSE, or any other band for that matter, and the outro is a refreshing instrumental, Matt's vocals are more a part of the background that foreground, that reminds me that this Album isn't all bad. Sadly the only song that I liked enough to give them the credit, that I wish I could, was "Animals".
I don't want to sound like a snob, saying "MUSE should go back to their old sound", in fact I encourage progression but if this is the direction that they're heading I have no interest in going with them. I'm also sure that a lot of readers will have a different definition of copying, and will also have a different idea of where the line should and should not be crossed. I can't recommend this album to any MUSE fans who fell of the bandwagon on "The Resistance" but if you liked that album I can't see you disliking this, but for me they've crossed a line I'd rather not cross my self, two too many times.
The Note Pad:
Other Bands You Might Like: Almost anything from the 80s