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Muse - Absolution


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 is inspiring.

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 Please.

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 a bee.

You won't see it coming, but when it delivers its blows, you can't help but be knocked out by it.

 

Track listing:
1. Intro
2. Apocalypse Please
3. Time Is Running Out
4. Sing for Absolution
5. Stockholm Syndrome
6. Falling Away with You
7. Interlude
8. Hysteria
9. Blackout
10. Butterflies and Hurricanes
11. Endlessly
12. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist
13. TSP
14. Rule by Secrecy

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