Album: Muse, The 2nd Law, (Warner)

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The Independent Culture

If there's one perennial reason to treasure Muse, it's their fearlessness in the face of scale. No band is as unafraid of their own magnificence.

The 2nd Law opens with "Supremacy", which crossbreeds the chassis of Led Zep's "Kashmir" with the aesthetics of a James Bond theme. Next to this, most other bands are Sultans of Ping FC. The none-more-Nietzschean, grandiose-apocalyptic mood continues through the utterly splendid Olympic theme "Survival", with its über-ELO arrangement, and "Animals", with its sound effects of an angry, riotous mob.

You don't score many originality points for comparing Muse to Queen, but it's impossible to hear "Explorers" without breaking into "Don't Stop Me Now". The influence even bleeds, tangentially, into the album's much-vaunted dubstep flavour – "Madness" is essentially "Another One Bites the Dust" with the Chic bassline replaced with a 2012 womp-womp-womp. It's what Freddie would have wanted.

The album ends with a peculiar brace of tracks, "Unsustainable" and "Isolated System", on which a disembodied voice delivers spoken warnings of ecological doom. By the time that happens, Muse – superband rather than mere mortal band – will be halfway to another planet.