Muse is a band that gained notoriety with its second studio album, Origin of Symmetry, and then solidified it with their third offering, Absolution. Muse is often referred to as an alternative rock band, a moniker I dislike, as it has no particular meaning other than rock from the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. Music enthusiasts: feel free to contact me to let me know why I should not have disdain for it. I would classify Muse as a band with progressive rock, symphonic rock, space rock, and a little pop-rock influences.
Ever since Muse announced that they had begun recording The Resistance back in early February, I have been waiting anxiously for this release. Honestly, I don’t know why—save for a pair of songs, I wasn’t impressed with their previous offering, the fourth studio album, Black Holes and Revelations. There were no innovations, no complex scores, no heart-touching guitar riffs; it was just your standard pop-rock album. I think it helped that pop-rock feels good in a shameless way, just like when you don’t study for an exam, but still ace it. Muse’s studio albums seem to take the same route my dining hall experience at RPI has. During Student Orientation and Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond, the food was pretty good, but slowly I began to detest eating at Commons. Origin of Symmetry and Absolution was like eating at Commons the first couple of weeks into my freshman year, but then Black Holes and Revelations came out and left an aftertaste that left much to be desired. Enter Muse’s latest album, The Resistance. Fortunately, The Resistance doesn’t taste much like Commons. No, it’s more like Blitman Commons Dining Hall.
Muse doesn’t dance around the subject; they know who they are right from the first track, “Uprising.” It is a Muse staple and I am not complaining. We’ve got the conspiracies, apocalypses, the revolutions and riots, and the victory for people. “Uprising” is not a strictly layered, chaotic rock opera; quite the opposite—it is a simple rock tune that is just fun to listen to, much like Muse classics like “Time is Running Out” and “Bliss.”
The title track, “Resistance,” is very reminiscent of U2’s early days—particularly the U2 hit, “New Year’s Day.” The combination of the uniquely placed drums and the even more unusual keyboard melody create a track that is enjoyable to listen to, not to mention loop-worthy. While the arrangement is enjoyable in its own right, its spooky outro makes you wish it played a more significant role in the piece.
“United States of Eurasia” is yet another track featuring new world orders. Unlike the title track, this one features Arabian-styled interludes, and Queen-esque guitar melodies leading up to the chorus. If that wasn’t enough, Muse decides to finish it off with a little Chopin. While I’m not complaining, I wonder if it’s too much; too many styles without much order, too much music for some ears to handle.
The album finishes off with three-part symphony “Exogenesis,” a 15-minute piece where Matthew Bellamy’s vocal talent and composing ability really shine. The piano work is some of the most polished I’ve heard in rock songs. It alone is enough for me to repeatedly play the song over, but Bellamy fascinates with his falsetto, which has never been more impressive. Don’t get me wrong, “Exogenesis” has its flaws. At times, its peaks, suspense, and urgency is all too predictable, which leaves the audience with a little disappointment. Still, it is definitely my favorite track performed by Muse.
The Resistance comes off as an album that tries too hard. On some tracks, the hard work pays off. On others, not so much. At first, you may be disappointed in the album, but give it some time; it grows on you and you will be glad it does. At the very least, listen to “Exogenesis.” It is definitely the track of the year.