Album: Muse, The Resistance, (Helium/WEA)
A politicised Muse take the path of vague resistance
Sunday 13 September 2009
This time it's political. Matt Bellamy has enough of the fence-sitting Bono about him to preclude naming names, but The Resistance is the album which sees Muse moving away from sci-fi fantasy and taking on the realities of the post-9/11 world order.
Opener "Uprising" contains lines like "It's time the fat cats had a heart attack/Their time is coming to an end/We need to unify and let the flag ascend", and was apparently inspired by popular disgust at the banking situation. The title track, which comes next, proclaims "Love is our resistance/They'll never break us down".
It's broad-brushstrokes stuff, pitting a heroic Us against an unnamed Them, but Bellamy's been inspired by some trusty sources, notably Orwell: see references to the Thought Police and track title "United States Of Eurasia". "Guiding Light", a critique of US foreign policy, uses the afterburner of a military jet as its opening percussion, "I Belong To You" looks forward to a time when "these pillars get pulled down", and "MK Ultra" deals with the notorious CIA mind-control experiment.
On this, the Teignmouth trio's fifth studio album, new musical influences are also brought into their orbit. They've apparently been listening to Timbaland, who has informed Dominic Howard's drum programming, and is most audible on "Undisclosed Desires", which could be a piece of prime Missy or Aaliyah. "Unnatural Selection", meanwhile, lifts the bassline from "Bug Powder Dust" by Bomb The Bass.
Elsewhere, more familiar influences emerge. "United States Of Eurasia" is pure Queen, from the fiddly fingertipped fanfares to the pedantic, Mercury-esque way Bellamy pronounces 'toooo' in the line "our ancient heroes they are turning to dust". That song also contains echoes of Ravel, with its chromatic scales, and classical music later takes over the whole album as the Chopin-like piano romanticism of "I Belong To You" opens the way for a trilogy of orchestral tracks, all titled "Exogenesis". This is the section which the band will doubtless be most proud of, but which fans will most often skip. As calls to revolution go, it's not exactly Lenin, but there is elegance in their vagueness.
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