- Melody / Hooks
A Wax Muse Museum
Muse have allegedly become the “greatest live band in the world”. Okay so we’ll forget about everyone else and the hype, and for one second concede that the futuristic prog rock “metal” scions from the West Country can afford to put on a show. A friend of mine has been to two Muse gigs. He said each was identical. Each show a facsimile of the other. No improvisation. No genuine dynamics. Just a very highly polished, well rehearsed, slick, slick set.
Origin of Symmetry
In 2001 Muse released Origin of Symmetry. It was a good record, reanimating the corpse of prog-rock with a heavy edge, huge bass – it lifted from the best of 90’s guitar rock.
The oblique guitar school tickery of “Plug-In Baby” put the clean cut trio, MUSE, somewhere in the proximity of Radiohead; for those who hadn’t moved on. This striking neo classicall riff had some hailing Bellamy as a “guitar hero”. Complete fucking nonsense. Already though, there were warning signs – Muse mercilessly butchered Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.
Resistance is Futile
SO what does all this overblown 21st Century space rock posturing mean? On their latest release, The Resistance, Muse have become something of a wax museum…are they just a one trick pony?…or The Darkness if they were daft enough to take themselves seriously? They don’t appear to be moving.
Muse song titles give valuable insight into their flimsy, cellophane, Battle Star Galactica aesthetic – “Neutron Star Collision” , “Space Dementia” , “Super Massive Blackhole”, “Knights of Cydonia”. Hilarious.
They’re trying really damn hard on The Resistance but somehow they’ve come up a long way shy of what every record needs – charisma and character. And that is the problem with Muse. If Muse are champions of anything it must be unoriginality. Sometimes they sound a bit like Keane. Sometimes they sound a bit like Sugababes, Gaydad or even Westlife.
In places Muse’s music is closer to facile pop than rock music; Sometimes they sound like Gary Numan or Marc Bolan. Their latest “single” Uprising from the Resistance album sounds like an artless glam-rock mockery of Blondie’s “Call Me” with all the edges knocked off. Being unoriginal surely sucks the life and energy out of anything – maybe that’s the price we have to pay for living inside a watered down, Prog-rock, Orwellian dystopia. Despite all the kaleidoscopic drama and extravagance the Muse poetry is strictly one dimensional.
We are not Amused
United States of Eurasia occupies a place somewhere between an early 1940’s soundtrack and an attempt to sound like Queen – liberally drenched in syrupy neo-classical plagiarism. If Muse didn’t sound so ridiculous they would still only sound pompous and over inflated. And, whilst Muse are definitely still a band with ideas; unoriginal ideas. They’ve run out of ideas. That old luminous pink, inflatable UFO revolution gimmick just won’t last forever.
Unnatural Selection proves that Muse can rock out – somewhere in betweeen Iron Maiden and Abba. It is probably the best song on the album with a kicking riff . But are Muse really going forwards, backwards or folding in on themselves? Are they intertextualists or just sluggish thieves? Unnatural Selection sounds too close to their own song 2001’s New Born. And, Flora Purim’s “Open Your Eyes You can Fly”.
Unfortunately, Muse’s grand lyrical concept consists of little more than slinging childish cliches together over carbon copies of themselves as Queen, as Radiohead with nothing to say. The production is accomplished – but the edge has gone – the Muse blueprint sounds tired and over done; the endless photocopies are wearing thin. In fact the EDM remixes of Undisclosed Desires are far more exciting than the originals.
Muse’s hollow lyrics promise among many things victory against oppression, unrest, reconciliation and obviously some kind of “revolution”; so Muse are still singing about the same old stuff, except in 2001 they at least sounded like they wanted to be Radiohead. Unfortunately Muse now want to be Queen. They are as convincing as custard because their latest offering is all superficial talk and no action. – “rock” for self-harmers scared of blades. Music that feels designed by a bunch of suits during a rock-pop-classical-crossover paint by numbers brainstorm. The dreadful Olympic anthem “Survival” quite clearly showcases Muse at their god-awful, vapid, over-dramatic worst. “Channeling” Queen is a waste of time.
Much ado about Nothing
The end of the album descends into ‘low concept’ night at the rock-opera pastiche – there are moments – but it’s mostly a lapse into grandiose, oversentimental, pseudo classical cheese, a huge fuss about nothing, nothing in particular. There is however synergy. The prettily coloured geometric artwork, and, the polished, symmetrical, perfect, mathematical, singalong tween-rock bombast echo each other. Resistance proficiently masquerades as music with an edge; for people who don’t know any better. Choose Origin of Symmetry, if you have to amuse yourself because The Resistance is unimaginative and UGLY.