Muse | The Resistance (Warner Bros.)

cd_muse.gifThis is certainly new territory for Muse and not necessarily the best for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muse dropped their new record The Resistance earlier this month, one week after releasing the album’s first single, "Uprising," to radio stations. "Uprising" is a forceful, epic-sounding rock tune, driven by a relentless bass line and accompanied nicely by Gary Numan-esque synths. If this new track is an indication of what is to come on this new record, then Muse fans are in for a treat…

But that wasn’t so much the case when I listened to The Resistance in its entirety. The aforementioned "Uprising" is the album opener as well as the disc’s strongest track. The powerful album opener is followed up with "Resistance"—a song that sounds a bit like a Disney ballad at times—and then "Undisclosed Desires," which starts out with a quasi-hip-hop, pop song sort of feel. This is certainly new territory for Muse and not necessarily the best for them. The song flows into a Depeche Mode-type chorus reminiscent of Martin Gore’s stylings.

The album’s fourth track, "The United States of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)," will have Queen fans quickly conjuring up images of Freddy Mercury and Brian May. The song starts out with a pretty piano melody and a laidback vocal delivery and then leads into a quintessentially Queen chorus with the harmonized, operatic vocals and harmonic-squealing guitar. A nicely arranged song, and clearly meant as an homage to Queen (a major influence on the band).

We hit the halfway mark of the record with "Guiding Light," a track plucked from the ’80s with the reverb-heavy drums and warm, analog-sounding synths—another song that is very similar in feel to Queen. The layered, harmonic guitars also embody a distinctly ’80s feel. "Unnatural Selection" brings us back to Muse’s more prog-rock side with its blistering guitars and up-tempo beat. It seems we’re here to stay on the prog-rock side for at least a bit longer as the next track, "MK Ultra," kicks in with an arpeggiated synth line (also distinctly ’80s in feel).

With "I Belong to You/Mon Coeur S’ouvre a Toi," we are shifted back over to the more pop-heavy side of things with the bouncy piano intro and R&B style vocal. Midway through the track we transition to the French side of things, which transcends into an operatic piece that would be appropriate for the stage.

A trio of symphonic scores end this record, beginning with "Exogenesis: Symphony Pt 1: Overture," a song destined to score a dramatic sequence of the next epic Hollywood film. This overture fades into "Exogenesis: Symphony Pt 2: Cross-Pollination," which has the film score feel to it as well—a song very large and whimsical in feel—and finally leaves us with the album closer, "Exogenesis: Symphony Pt 3: Redemption," a mellow, pretty piece that left me envisioning images of black-and-white silent films.

So how do we summarize a record such as The Resistance, very much a mixed bag? For starters, this collection of songs doesn’t really flow as a cohesive album; it feels like a bunch cinematic jump cuts edited together. At times the album is nostalgic with its use of electronics; other times we hit the accelerator and jump into progressive-rock territory; then we’re left with the trio of symphonic pieces to close out the record.

This album leaves me with a shrug of the shoulders and also a few new tunes to throw on my iPod playlist, but perhaps not a new album that, overall, would see an abundance of play. I give Muse a lot of credit for releasing an album that was very unexpected but, put simply, is just not their best work. B- | Christopher Sewell

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