Release Date: Sep 15, 2009
Record label: Warner Bros.
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
The band's tendency to pile excess upon excess doesn't always yield strong results, and there's a fine line between, say, the anthemic beauty of "Guiding Light" and the bizarre Timbaland-meets-Depeche Mode ambiance of "Undisclosed Desires. " Even so, The Resistance is by and large a fantastic record, culminating in a three-song suite that finds the group jumping from classical movements to guitar fretwork to sweeping, swaggering, operatic rock. Those songs occupy the final 16 minutes of the disc, and while they'd likely make a bigger impact earlier in the track list, their mere presence indicates that Muse is finally growing comfortable with its own aspirations.
Almost inevitably, the listener will arrive at a point during Muse's fifth album when they are gripped by the absolute certainty that some kind of limit has been reached, that the trio simply cannot continue further on their current trajectory without succumbing to self-parody, and making a record of such high-camp ridiculousness that the only response is to laugh at them. Perhaps that point will come during the three-part orchestral work called Exogenesis: Symphony. Or I Belong to You, a song based on a Saint-Saëns aria that features frontman Matt Bellamy singing in French – plus a clarinet solo.
After the bombastic apotheosis of 2007's two-night stand at the new Wembley Stadium, Muse had two options. Either retreat into their shell and record that acoustic set of 19th-century West Country folk songs, or continue along the trajectory laid out for them by the wilfully apocalyptic Black Holes & Revelations - ie to infinity and beyond. While it's no surprise that Muse have chosen the latter course, the wholeheartedness with which this album hurls itself into the abyss of cod-symphonic astral pretension is to be commended.
The Resistance, the fifth album from the as-heard-on-the-Twilight-soundtrack alt-prog trio, is one highfalutin collection. Chopin’s Nocturne in E Flat Major features on the Queen-evoking ”United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage),” while the CD concludes with a three-part ”symphony” — complete with overture! — called ”Exogenesis.” Frontman Matt Bellamy mostly gets away with these high jinks thanks to his skilled way with a Radiohead-ish hook. The album’s best track, ”Uprising,” is a simple slice of glam rock, however, assisted not by classical composers but by what the liner notes describe as ”hooligan noises.” B Download This: Listen to the song Uprising at imeem.com See all of this week’s reviews .
You’ve already made up your mind. I can feel it from your disinterested scanning of my words, the upturned sneer or grin as a certain sentence catches your exact sentiments. I can just see you poring over the contents of the record with either barely contained enthusiasm or in hysterics at the bombast Muse have pumped into this, their fifth album.
As with so many 21st-century mainstream (or quasi-mainstream) rock albums unafraid to stuff 10 tons of quasi-operatic melodrama into 60 or so minutes, The Resistance will be easily dismissed by those into the Grizzly Bear/Dirty Projectors brand of orchestrated art-rock. You know, where the album has a pleasing ramshackle feel under the surface-level skillfulness, the sense that the vocal acrobatics or tricky instrumental interplay could suddenly veer into uncomfortable, mock amateurish expressionism. By contrast, you never get the sense that Muse are anything less than in total control of their "difficult" music at all times.
Does Muse seem as relevant as ever? In a year that marks the 60th anniversary of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four while pregnant with reinvigorated conspiracy theories, books on paranoia and worries about Google surveillance, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? Alas, their latest album doesn’t rise to the occasion. The Devonshire threesome are best known for setting their anarcho-paranoiac thrills alight with sonic extravaganzas that beg to soundtrack a version of We Will Rock You if it were modeled on War of the Worlds and starred Winston Smith as protagonist. The wonder is why so many critics likened Muse to Radiohead rather than to Queen.
Muse really, really wants to be Radiohead. There was talk of releasing The Resistance as a series of singles, something Thom Yorke has talked about in recent years. The Bends producer John Leckie produced their first album. They talked about switching from a rock format to and electronic one for this album (they didn’t, but you can hear the attempts at an Idioteque clone three tracks in on Undisclosed Desires).
Just look at that cover and I mean, really look at it. In the middle is our planet Earth and leading up to it is some kind of ray of light. Surrounded by a colorful imagination of space and all of its radiance is a spherical palette of colors. That, in a nutshell is what Muse has always been about ….
PEARL JAM “Backspacer” (Monkeywrench) Heading into a new career phase can make a band reassess itself and try to rev up. That’s what Pearl Jam does on “Backspacer,” its first studio album outside the major-label system. (Merging pragmatism and conscience, Pearl Jam is selling the album nationwide exclusively through Target, but also at small independent record stores and on iTunes and pearljam.com.) “Are you on the rise? Are you falling down?” Eddie Vedder hollers in “Got Some,” then whoops, “Got some if you need it!” “Backspacer” looks toward rock basics that predate Pearl Jam’s beginnings.