Musings on Resistance

I have been listening to Muse’s new album ‘The Resistance’ on Spotify and still can’t decide whether to buy it or not. One of the problems with Spotify is that you get used to being able to chose from a vast range and I think this leads to you becoming a bit of a perfectionist. I think the fact Spotify relies on your playlists, leads you to believe you can create a perfect compilation. It is also harder to convince yourself that the money is worth spending when you know what you’re getting is not perfect, rather than justifying it after you have bought it.

Anyway, back to Muse. I think the album can be divided into three sections, the first four being almost certainly singles, middle four being trying new things or continuing as before, and then the final three are the Exogenesis symphony.

Opener ‘Uprising’ is their current single, and a good one to start with. Its a futuristic sounding upbeat dance track, with sounds that seem to come directly from Doctor Who. It sets the tone, as this record is a bit of a science fiction opera, with many political undertones. ‘The Resistance’ is one of the finest tracks on here, as long as you don’t mind all the 1984 references. The drums and haunting piano go excellently with the backing, and the chorus will be a great sing along live, hence the inevitable release as a single, despite the near 6 minute length. ‘Undisclosed Desires’ is another of my personal favourites, a slower cousin to ‘Supermassive Black Hole’. Also got a very catchy chorus, but not one for those who disliked ‘Black Holes and Revelations’. ‘United States of Eurasia’ was the song that gave fans their first taste of the album, as it was released in a USB hunt. This starts off as being like Queen, and ends with Chopin before Jet engines are heard to finish in spectacular but ridiculous style. The intro is a bit too long for my liking, but once it gets going, its fine.

‘Guiding Light’ is an unashamed power ballad, with cheesy guitar and all. For me, this is a bit of a step too far, and it just grates a bit too much. ‘Unnatural Selection’ is a much needed increase in pace, and is both the longest and heaviest song on here. I like it, as it has a breakdown in the middle for relief, and it is clear to me Muse are comfortable here, singing about Conspiracies and playing their guitars heavily. ‘MK-Ultra’ shares its name with a CIA mind control experiment that began in the 50’s and involved surreptitiously giving LSD to unwilling volunteers. The song deals with how much is in your mind, and questions how you can allow such things to happen. A good song, again, more or less classic Muse. ‘I Belong to You’, is another new direction, and includes a Jazz-like section and Matt singing in French. I quite like it, but the couplet “Then she attacks me like a Leo, when my heart is split like Rio” just makes me clench my teeth, it seems both lazy and meaningless. The rest of the song however, is quite good, even the Clarinet solo.

Then we come to the 3 part Exogenesis symphony. This reminds me of the similar thing that Snow Patrol tried with ‘The Lightning Strike’, though they made it one track rather than 3. Exogenesis is the theory that life started on another planet and moved to Earth, but in this symphony, we hear of humans moving to another planet to repopulate it. The first part, ‘Overture’, has a really beautiful introduction, but when Matt starts singing, I wish he didn’t use that high pitch tone of his, as the music is better off without it. When the guitar comes in, that works too, but the vocal just doesn’t in my opinion. The second part ‘Cross Pollination’ has a long piano intro, which thereby distances itself from the previous part. Much to my relief however, Matt’s voice has gone back to normal, and you can understand him again. This again has a feel that often comes with Muse, act now or we lose it all. The classical arrangements are much more low key, so it may seem to have peaked too early, as this feels much duller. ‘Redemption’ has yet another long intro, this time two minutes rather than one. The intro however is better, reminding me of Sigur Ros rather than just a nice piano solo. It feels a bit stretched, but is still better than ‘Cross Pollination’. However, it feels out of place after all the contemporary stuff, and feels to me like an anticlimax. After all the ridiculousness of the previous tracks, Queen & Chopin, Power Ballads and singing in French with Clarinet solos, this seems so unadventurous. Of course it is, but it sounds classical, out of place with the futuristic sound that we just got used to.

Maybe I am just being picky, but I’m still not sure whether I like Exogenesis. As a whole, they have shown that they are willing to try new things and confirmed that they are not going to do another ‘Origin of Symmetry’, so if that’s what you’re after, look for another band. This has to be respected, as they have taken a few risks with this. It could have been better, but on the whole all the songs have their merits. Unless you can’t stand power ballads.

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