Review: Jack Foley
MUSE have long been described as a more grandiose, even operatic,
version of Radiohead, with their wailing songs of despair, and
Matt Bellamy's whining vocal style.
And listening to the opening moments of their third album, Absolution,
it is easy to see why.
There is an epic, almost surreal quality to their music, as though
they are constructing something much bigger than mere records
- virtually every track takes the form of a sprawling odyssey,
brimming with inventivity, as though being constructed on the
widest possible canvas.
Some might say their style of songwriting owes itself more to
a film soundtrack, such is the power of tracks such as Time
Is Running Out, or the slow-building Sing For Absolution,
but one thing is for certain, every song resonates with a quality
reserved for the very best bands.
Muse, it seems, are at the top of their game, and their confidence
Bellamy's voice may be as unmistakable, in style, to Thom Yorke's,
but you could never describe a Muse track as depressing, even
when announcing the end of the world, in opening track, Apocalypse
And while current alt-rock favourites, The Darkness, seem content
to play it for laughs and play it to the mainstream, Muse continue
to go about their business in highly intelligent fashion, creating
music that can, and should, appeal to all sensibilities - even
those with a fondness for opera.
Interlude, for instance, has been described elsewhere
as a 'heavily distorted take on Samuel Barber's Adagio For
Strings', while Hysteria tip-toes the type of stadium
anthem Queen were revered for, with a chorus that resembles 'I
Want It All'.
Blackout is another stand-out track, dripping with strings,
and a slower than usual feel, as is Falling Away With You,
which arrives like a breath of fresh air following the relentless,
five-minute guitar assault that is Stockholm Syndrome.
Some may find its campish tendencies a little too waring, or
its wilder excesses completely annoying, but there is no getting
away from the sheer scope of Absolution - it strives for
a higher plain in just about everything it does.
It is no surprise, therefore, to find production values coming
from LA-based producer, Rich Costey, who has also worked with
both Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave.
In fact, such is the dazzling, urgent beauty of the long-player,
that one is reminded of one of Muhammad Ali's greatest quotes
- that is to say, it can float like a butterfly and sting like
You won't see it coming, but when it delivers its blows, you
can't help but be knocked out by it.
2. Apocalypse Please
3. Time Is Running Out
4. Sing for Absolution
5. Stockholm Syndrome
6. Falling Away with You
10. Butterflies and Hurricanes
12. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist
14. Rule by Secrecy