Jump to content

Recommended Posts



Throughout their career, it's always been clear that Muse aren't satisfied to just do the same thing over and over again, as they have evolved from their early days when they were (perhaps unfairly) pigeonholed as a Radiohead imitator into purveyors of some of the most epic symphonic rock since Queen graced the stage. On their sixth album, The 2nd Law, they continue to shake things up, diving deeper into the electronic rabbit hole as they experiment with a sound that's less reliant on Matthew Bellamy's guitar heroics, resulting in an album that's a bit of a mixed bag. Incorporating some of the slickest production the band has ever had with a more synth-heavy sound, the album certainly succeeds in feeling different from Muse's previous work.


While this certainly keeps with their tradition of always pushing their sound in new directions, their excursions into dubstep and dance music on tracks like "Madness" and "Follow Me" feel more like remixes than original songs. Songs like these definitely have the spine of Muse tracks, but the production that's built up around them feels almost alien. This feeling really comes through on "Panic Station," which feels like a cousin to "Supermassive Black Hole," but where the latter was built on a solid foundation of heavy guitars, the former is over-produced into what feels like the band's version of Genesis' "That's All." Though there are plenty of moments like these, there are also lots of places where they get things right, with album opener "Supremacy" and Olympic anthem "Survival" leading the pack with their symphonic arrangements providing the album with the kind of sweeping grandeur that people have come to expect.


The most surprising experiment, however, comes by way of "Save Me" and "Liquid State," which find bassist Chris Wolstenholme stepping into the spotlight as a singer and a songwriter for the first time. The two songs work well together, with the first feeling like a kind of drifting introduction to the other's bass-heavy drive, providing the album with a pair of songs that feel like a throwback to the Origin of Symmetry and Absolution days, while feeling different enough that they're not an obvious step backward.


With so many different experiments going on, The 2nd Law can sometimes feel a bit disjointed. Fortunately, the sense of drama Muse have cultivated over the years provides just enough glue to tie the album together so that fans won't have too much problem navigating its choppy waters, and though not all of the band's experiments necessarily pay off, the album feels like a worthy proving ground for the ideas that will take the band boldly into the future.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry to sour things with the only negative review from a major publication (The Sunday Times):




Dud of the week


Muse — The 2nd Law

Warners 2564656879

The least absorbing of their six albums, Muse’s latest is a retread rather than an advance, mining all-too-familiar seams: musically, prog, Queen, the Bond and Doctor Who themes, and trusty Rachmaninov, with a closing conceptual suite; lyrically, the old favourites of apocalypse, global warming and shady global conspiracies. In the absence of a statement single à la Supermassive Black Hole, it is the subtler, more pastoral tracks such as Explorers that truly engage. The suite conjures up Skrillex, Rick Wakeman and Tubular Bells, and Chris Wolstenholme’s two songs about his battle with drink are the only genuinely affecting moments on a mess of an album. DC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From a Brazilian website:


Three years ago, when Muse released their fifth album The Resistance, it managed to better define the sound of the group, but failed to truly push the envelope for them. As the record overflowed with lukewarm grandeur, their sound was made bigger, but not necessarily any deeper or more enticing . Now, releasing their latest LP, The 2nd Law, the band sought out much-needed new directions for their sound, while re-establishing the punch that their earlier work contained. And they succeed – for a while, at least.


The 2nd Law starts particularly strong, as opener Supremacy immediately does away with much of what plagued the group’s previous studio effort: the main riff hits hard and relentlessly, the operatic verses don’t go on for longer than they should, and the entire piece grooves like a mix of a Bond theme and Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. The mood then changes drastically for the synth-pop of Madness, a “love-it-or-hate-it” affair that works as far more than a mere earworm; and again on Panic Station, with an unabashed, ridiculously good-humored funk influence. The way these two tracks embrace their respective genres and hold no regards for what a Muse song “should” sound like is what pushes the band into new territory, and breathes fresh air into their music.


The momentum gained by those three initial tracks is so strong that it carries over to the more typical (by the band’s standards) Survival. Going from an orchestral prelude, to a Queen-ish piano pop song, to an immense instrumental ending, it all appears on the constant peril of going overboard. It never does, however, as the choir – of course there’s a choir – mostly assists the tune rather than carry it, and frontman Matt Bellamy’s guitar alternates between soloing and accompanying bassist Chris Wolstenholme’s crushing bass line. When Survival is tied up at just over four minutes, a few tracks into the record, there’s the impression that Muse have found a way to incorporate everything they want into their sound, albeit no longer with the necessity to merely pile elements on top of each other and see how long they can carry them for.


Much was said of how the band went dubstep, after the very first snippet of music released from The 2nd Law demonstrated something undeniably similar to a collaboration with Skrillex. As it turns out, there are only two tracks here that incorporate some dubstep, and not for long enough to actually win over any fans of that subgenre. First, Follow Me starts out like a regular venture into electronic music, until a massive bass drop hits during the chorus, and pretty much derails what could be a harmless pop song. Later, the mostly instrumental The 2nd Law: Unsustainable does a more tasteful use of dubstep by having the band members actually play something similar to it, interspersed with orchestral sections, and ends up sounding honorable in comparison to Follow Me.


Similar to what occurred in previous Muse records, the real problems start to emerge during the second half. Right after Animals brings out some bluesy guitars and welcome similarities to their second LP Origin of Symmetry, the slow Explorers comes along and inordinately drags for nearly six minutes without doing much of anything special. Followed by the heavier, though equally mundane Big Freeze, it forms a couple of tracks that seem content with simply existing, and bring to a halt any excitement that was built up until that point.


The two songs that follow are made unusual due to Chris Wolstenholme taking over lead vocal duties for the first time ever, something that obviously adds to the variety of the record, but doesn’t significantly improve it. While Save Me and Liquid State are competent on their own (as are Mr. Wolstenholme’s vocals), they would be fine palate cleansers if placed closer to the bulk of the tracklist, rather than stuck near the end. The sequencing of the songs is made even more odd by the fact that the final couple of tunes are mostly instrumental, meaning that the last words we hear from Matt Bellamy come a full seventeen minutes before the record is finished. It’s as if they gave up finding a coherent order and pushed the four vocally different tracks to the end.


Despite the tracklisting issues before it, closing track The 2nd Law: Isolated System provides a classy ending: conducted by a subdued electronic beat, it makes great use of basic, yet moving string arrangements and piano, as voice clips of news broadcasts play over, giving it an eerie atmosphere. It shows a different side of the band’s sound, one that made rare appearances in the past, and that could have been used more extensively on The 2nd Law.


As proven by their 2006 breakout record Black Holes & Revelations, Muse tend to improve the most when they stretch out and incorporate aspects from different genres into their music. They surely attempted that again on The 2nd Law, and it worked to a certain extent, as most of the record’s first half has some of their best music to date, and the second half contains a few worthy experiments. Unfortunately, the less memorable moments mean that the LP is prone to the cherry-picking of its finest moments – something that could’ve been avoided with some trimming. But still, when The 2nd Law hits its marks, it’s clear that the band did a proper job of first finding the core of each song, then building their massive sound over it, putting quality over scale.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kind of amazed it got a 5.5. I swear they were going to give it a 1.5...




When Muse released the "trailer" for The 2nd Law, it was the kind of preemptive shock tactic you typically expect from a record that has a lot riding on it. "MUSE GOES DUBSTEP!!!" created a minor firestorm, albeit one that was containable because it was utterly predictable. Of course Muse fans would storm the YouTube comment section with bloodthirsty vengeance. However you think Muse fits into the lineage of Queen or Rush musically, they've benefited greatly from establishing themselves as a last bastion of technically boastful and very popular prog-rock that's always implicitly held unkind attitudes toward synthesizer-based music. On the other hand, of course Muse would eventually glom onto EDM. It's the last frontier for a band that's only now integrating those sandworm basslines but whose music has always provided listeners with equivalents of "the drop"-- a glass-shattering falsetto run, Wagnerian crescendos, solos that are gunning for the one tab per month in Guitar World that's from the last decade. Having seemingly mastered all modes of excess, you'd think The 2nd Law would be Muse's unimpeachable triumph. It's not, and the problem isn't that Muse have gone too far... they haven't gone far enough.


Wait, this is Muse we're talking about, right? Hear me out, because the first half of The 2nd Law does indeed indicate that Muse have absolutely no interest whatsoever in staying within the boundaries of good taste. For about 45 seconds of "Supremacy", they actually sound like a real band, immediately after which hushed military snare rolls, chesty timpanis, and anticipatory string wells lead you to believe Matt Bellamy has unwittingly sauntered into a Michael Bay movie or Metallica's symphonic tragicomedy S&M. And titans shall clash as Bellamy speaks with the conviction of a man who is either going to tell us they'll never take our freedom or to release the kraken. With dramatic flair, he intones "your true emancipation is a fantasy," which... OK. But "the time..." Go on. "...it has come," that "it," perfect. "To destrooooyyyyyy..." Destroy what? Make sure you put your drink down as Bellamy screams "YOUR SUPREMACYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!" because all of a sudden having The 2nd Law only in audio form feels pathetically inadequate-- next time you will place it against footage from Starship Troopers, although the closest visual equivalent to this batshit moment is a dinosaur with a cowboy hat manning a F-15 and blowing evil aliens to bits while scoring the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. That's not even the most ludicrous part-- wait until that bit of spy guitar comes in at the end, bearing no melodic resemblance to what just transpired and inferring Muse believes they've made their James Bond theme. No, really.


And that's the jumping off point for The 2nd Law, which wields its unlimited studio resources and chops like a stockpile of nuclear warheads, all implicit intimidation and explicit explosion. You think wimps like Purity Ring and James Blake are taking dubstep to stadium status? Peep the genius, stuttering hook and vacuuming bass of "Madness", which serves as a reminder that Muse's pop instinct has them and not Mars Volta headlining Coachella. "Panic Station" reimagines the Red Hot Chili Peppers as multimillionaires back in the "Fight Like a Brave" days, bolstering a pelvic bassline with the finest in gated Linn snares and fake orchestra hits. There's obviously a "Prelude" here, and because this is Muse, it's actually the fourth song, not the first. And "Survival" totally needs it.


"Survival" is by far the most ridiculous song on The 2nd Law, if not Muse's entire career, meaning it's the most successful. Just imagine Watch the (Game of) Throne(s) or if Queen tried to write "Ogre Battle" and "Bicycle Race" at the same damn time. As Jess Harvell noted in his review of The Resistance, Muse have an "us vs. them" perspective that's always fit well in the gamer lifestyle, and this one's for all the Mario Kart heads using Wario to troll the shit out of Princess Toadstool-- Bellamy bellows, "Life's a race! AND I'M GONNA WIN!" He's soon surrounded by a mock Greek chorus, hamming with operatic haughtiness, "I'll light the fuse, and I'll never lose." And you cross your fingers, sincerely hoping, "please Lord, make him rhyme it with Muse." He doesn't, and it's the first time Muse draw the line. At its best, The 2nd Law is sort of like spending a week in Dubai, the ostentatious excess is simultaneously offensive and weirdly comforting for its mere existence in this economically depressed state.


So what the hell happens? As you might be able to tell from song titles like "Save Me" and "Follow Me", Muse's insatiable quest for sonic largesse is anchored by an equally consumptive messianic streak. This in and of itself isn't much of a problem, seeing as how Muse do create superhero music. (Imagine Christopher Nolan roping in Bono to play Batman and you get an idea of where Bellamy is coming from.) Sure, they're capable of saving the world with their own two hands, but only out of a sense of grim, solemn duty that's recognizable only to adults who've aged out of wanting to be a superhero-- Bellamy's too damn sincere about the fate of the planet to go full-leotard, leaving no space for any humor, sex, or any escapism, really.


"Animals" and "Explorers" are anti-topical enough to leave something to the imagination, but it doesn't give you anything to work with either. They're also where Muse ditch the pyrotechnics for actual piano-tinkling prog and remind you that they're still not that far off from Showbiz, their charming debut of slavish OK Computer worship. You can see the iceage coming on "Big Freeze" from two towns over and every time Bellamy pushes for a higher note, you can imagine him being yelled at by a weightlifting spotter. By the time the trailer-leaked "The 2nd Law: Unsustainable" pops up toward the end, the panicked transmissions about our energy crises are handled as delicately as The Dark Knight Rises' Occupy Wall Street overtones and are every bit as enjoyable.


Truth be told, The 2nd Law superficially succeeds for the same reasons as that movie-- the whiz-bang technical effects and relentless soundtrack is overwhelming, a justification of "you gotta spend money to make money." The problem is that it's not any fun at all, and the "message" feels like an unnecessary overcompensation for the campy streak that draws people into this kind of comic-book stuff in the first place. Sadly, there's a greater chance of Christian Bale dancing the "Batusi" than Bellamy writing a song about big asses for the hell of it. Both seem like a dead end or at least a point where, contrary to the cliché, if it gets any bigger, it will fail. When saving the world feels this much like a chore, you just wish for "Apocalypse Please".

Edited by JessicaSarahS
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5.5 :stunned:


Coming from Pitchfork this is like a blessing.


EDIT: Oh god they just had to fit in a Mars Volta criticism in there didn't they :LOL:


EDIT 2: "Muse have an "us vs. them" perspective that's always fit well in the gamer lifestyle, and this one's for all the Mario Kart heads using Wario to troll the shit out of Princess Toadstool"


This is one of the most enjoyable P4K reviews I've read in a while.

Edited by Kueller917
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sixth album The 2nd Law finds Muse hedging their bets, writes TOM WILLIAMS.


Muse are a band of harsh contrasts. They attempt to maintain a balance between the radio-friendly and the progressive, and they’re just as capable of writing relentless prog-rock anthems as they are simplistic pop laments.


The move away from the nuanced space-rock tendencies of 2001‘s Origin of Symmetry and 2003‘s Absolution has left many fans disillusioned, and rightfully so. It’s terribly difficult to keep two disparate sets of fans happy. The 2nd Law will continue to fracture the already fragmenting Muse fan-base, because it expands the band’s sound and creates even more disparities in the process. Moments of pure genius and strange periods of awkward musical pretentiousness are juxtaposed together. The album lacks coherence, and feels somewhat like a collection of singles, each of varying quality, and each pulling the listener in a different direction.


The 2nd Law follows a similar formula to 2009’s somewhat disappointing The Resistance, yet seems to make better use of the structure: It moves from the radio-friendly to the progressive, and ends with a moody multi-stage epic about the state of life on earth.


Within this progression, the closest we come to the Muse aesthetic of the early noughties is on ‘Animals’ and ‘Supremacy’, although neither track can really be marked as revivalist. The former balances delicate flamenco guitar melodies with heavy riffs in order to express Matthew Bellamy’s contempt for neoliberal banker-types. The latter acts as the album’s dramatic introduction, combining a plodding guitar riff with filmic James Bond-like strings.


Adopted Olympic anthem ‘Survival’ has a contagious over-the-top atmosphere, yet isn’t immune from Bellamy’s cheesy lyricism. The band’s collective musicianship makes up for it, though, with diving riffs and powerful percussion maintaining the song’s energy.


Divisive single ‘Madness’ is a simple pop track with an R&B undercurrent that’s catchy, but doesn’t really work; while the recurring “earth is a lost hope” allegory of ‘Explorers’ is akin to the self-aggrandising expressions last seen on The Resistance ’s ‘Guiding Light’. There’s a humble honesty to ‘Save Me’, in which bassist Chris Wolstenholme takes on vocal duties. His voice isn’t as dynamic as Bellamy’s, yet is simple and unadorned, making you wonder why it hasn’t been utilised more often in the past. Perhaps the most exciting track is closer ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System’, which fuses delicate piano and guitar lines with pulsing electronic percussion and cinematic strings. It’s a sound we’ve scarcely heard from Muse, not on this album, or others before it.


The 2nd Law is a catch-22 release: It explores some daring new sounds, yet seems to base itself in radio-friendly tracks that mimic current trends. Progressive yet conservative, philosophical yet everyday, Muse’s dynamism is hard to deny.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually enjoyed that review, although the score would implicate it as being worse than The Resistance.

I searched for Radiohead and found no results - OK Computer was there instead. ;)



"Slavish OK Computer worship from their debut Showbiz". :awesome:

I thought it was "The Bends", but that's just me. :indiff:

They implied that Explorers sounds like Radiohead. No surprise. :awesome: :awesome:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few more from across the pond








Don't think the Washington Post liked it much :LOL:


'Derivative opener “Supremacy,” the possible result of a vamp-off between Radiohead and the Darkness cover bands and a serious contender for worst song in the history of time, doesn’t even have the dignity of its own terribleness' :stunned:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I a bad person for loving those terrible Pitchfork & WaPo reviews? So over the top in their descriptions that if I weren't a Muse fan already, I'd *want* to listen to that supposed pile of trash :LOL: But no worries, the album's pretty great to me (8.5/10 in case anyone cares)


A few more reviews:


Idolator (4/5): http://idolator.com/6978711/muse-the-2nd-law-album-review


The Fly (4/?): http://www.the-fly.co.uk/reviews/album/1015683/muse/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I a bad person for loving those terrible Pitchfork & WaPo reviews? So over the top in their descriptions that if I weren't a Muse fan already, I'd *want* to listen to that supposed pile of trash :LOL: But no worries, the album's pretty great to me (8.5/10 in case anyone cares)


A few more reviews:


Idolator (4/5): http://idolator.com/6978711/muse-the-2nd-law-album-review


The Fly (4/?): http://www.the-fly.co.uk/reviews/album/1015683/muse/


Maybe in their twisted minds they loved the album, but because they write on those sites they had to pretend they hated it. But still, they tried to make it sound interesting.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...