Album: The 2nd Law
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Helium 3 / Warner
Muse has been one of my favorite bands dating back to early high school when I first heard “New born” off of Origin of Symmetry and swore that a classical composer had formed the next great rock band. I loved that album, I loved Absolution, I liked Black Holes and Revelations, and The Resistance took a lot of coming to terms with. It wasn’t that I thought their last album was bad: it’s that I was promised a thirty minute symphony and their best songs ever, and I got two great songs (“United States of Eurasia” and “Unnatural Selection”) and a barely twelve minute Muse song with a string section (maybe you disagree, but as a music major: when I’m told I’m getting a symphony, you better give me a damn symphony). A single from this album was released, a song played at the Olympics that made me shut off the television out of sheer let down. I hesitated to accept this review for UTG because they were one of my favorite bands, and I was expecting that the album would be something I would have to trash if I was going to be honest.
I was wrong. “Madness” is the worst song on The 2nd Law. And this album is amazing.
Muse’s sound has evolved over the past two studio albums, and it feels like they’ve finally found what they were looking for. Just as the last album showed brief moments of Queen-level self indulgence, this album is packed with them – and they’re done just right, with nothing indulgent enough to be annoying. “Supremacy” is already one of my favorite Muse songs. Both of the songs Chris Wolstenholme sings lead on will catch you off guard – he’s a better vocalist than most bands’ lead singers, but he’s only got two on this album because he’s not Matt Bellamy. His two songs, “Liquid state” and “Save me,” enter new ground with the band. The former of these two sounds like a new Foo Fighters single, except it’s a Muse song. You’ll be shocked at how much Chris sounds like Dave Grohl.
Even the low points on the album have some value, with “Survival” fitting as a potential soundtrack to a comedy film – but I don’t even know if that’s a bad thing. Every now and then, it helps for a band that a lot of people would view as insanely pretentious to have a song that would work best as a montage in a rom-com starring Paul Rudd. The more filler songs are still catchy; some of the better songs enter new ground – listen to “Panic station” and try not to be reminded of Station to station era Bowie, I dare you. Still more feel like the same old great Muse but furthering their sound – Absolution had “Ruled by secrecy”, Origin of Symmetry had “Megalomania”, and The 2nd Law has “Animals”.
I’m sure a question a lot of Muse fans want an answer to is, how much of the new sound/album is influenced by Electronic Dance Music? The real answer is: not that much. The parts first released on the YouTube trailer are virtually it. I don’t even think of them as EDM; after their live album was released, fans were harping (pun intended) for some of that weird live guitar work to be done in the studio; that’s all their EDM phase is. And honestly, in the context of the album, it’s wonderful – the two parts of the title track go smoothly with each other, and make for a beautiful ending to an album I was surprised to love.
If you hate Muse, will this album make you like them? Maybe not. If you hated their last album, will this redeem it? Possibly. If you love Muse, will you love this album? Definitely. I listened to this album six times in one day at the direct disobedience of my editor, because I couldn’t stop listening to it. I’m writing this and I still can’t stop listening to it. If you’re a music lover, you’ll likely have the same problem. And it’s not that bad of a problem to have, is it?
Review written by Dan Bogosian