Plumbiferous Media

The Resistance - Muse

Sep 20th 2009
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The Resistance - MuseMuse
The Resistance
Score: 87

The Resis­tance is British alt-rock band Muse’s newest album, fol­low­ing four very suc­cess­ful releas­es since their 1994 incep­tion - includ­ing four UK plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and two US golds. This newest album pre­serves Muse’s elec­tron­ic-infused sound, while instill­ing it with new ener­gy and an inter­est­ing use of clas­si­cal influ­ence. In this man­ner, The Resis­tance is a suc­cess both as a tra­di­tion­al Muse album and as some­what of a depar­ture of style (or per­haps an evo­lu­tion) for Muse.

Strong, com­pli­cat­ed, and intel­li­gent instru­men­tals have become known as a sta­ple of Muse, which is no sur­prise giv­en tracks like “Hys­te­ria,” from Muse’s third album, Abso­lu­tion. And while there’s noth­ing on The Resis­tance quite like the bass line of that track, such that Muse might have slacked off some­what in lev­el of dif­fi­cul­ty, the lev­el of con­sid­er­a­tion has notice­ably risen. The begin­ning of “Resis­tance” fea­tures a sim­ple piano part and a dri­ving drum line that man­age to blend togeth­er excep­tion­al­ly well, and lat­er, even as the gui­tar and bass lines often run par­al­lel to the melody, nei­ther sim­ply lies in uni­son, instead adding its own inflec­tions and details.

“Upris­ing” is also a strong tes­ta­ment to Muse’s musi­cal abil­i­ty. The bass and drum lines are both high­ly repet­i­tive and pre­dictable, but they are per­fect­ly designed to allow the melody to play off of them while still cement­ing the mood of the track. The melodies then in turn insure that the track remains engag­ing through all five min­utes of repet­i­tive struc­ture. To con­trast “Upris­ing,” “Unnat­ur­al Selec­tion” uses an extreme­ly engag­ing, pow­er­ful har­mo­ny, and lets the vocals run freely on top of the dense instru­men­tals. And of course, if dur­ing the course of The Resis­tance, one begins to feel that the album is too con­ven­tion­al or pre­dictable, the lis­ten­er only needs to wait for the final tracks, which encom­pass the sur­pris­ing, clas­si­cal-infused, dynam­ic, and con­stant­ly chang­ing “Exo­ge­n­e­sis.”

If not the dri­ving instru­men­tals, Matthew Bel­lamy’s impas­sioned tenor is the most rec­og­niz­able part of Muse’s musi­cal style, and so it’s not sur­pris­ing to hear him open the album prop­er fol­low­ing the elec­tric intro to “Upris­ing.” How­ev­er, the ener­gy lev­el of Bel­lamy’s voice has cer­tain­ly increased from ear­li­er Muse releas­es - an ear­ly indi­ca­tor of the direc­tion of The Resis­tance. Bel­lamy’s style of swoop­ing enun­ci­a­tion and ever-present falset­to cer­tain­ly haven’t changed, and are used expert­ly on a range of tracks from the exul­tant “Unit­ed States of Eura­sia (+Col­lat­er­al Dam­age)” to the slight­ly more sub­dued “Undis­closed Desires.” On the major­i­ty of The Resis­tance, Bel­lamy’s voice is per­fect­ly suit­ed to Muse’s par­tic­u­lar brand of spacey prog-rock, though, on the some­what more gener­ic “Guid­ing Light,” a more mut­ed approach is less successful.

Lyri­cal­ly, The Resis­tance is much like ear­li­er Muse albums - filled with a sort of unique strange­ness that occa­sion­al­ly comes through as gen­uine thought. Tracks like “Unit­ed States of Eura­sia” seem to com­bine a sur­re­al polit­i­cal mes­sage with a gen­uine sense of pur­pose - while at the same time keep­ing every­thing so strange and unspe­cif­ic that it can’t quite be described as hav­ing any pur­pose beyond music. This, how­ev­er, does­n’t stop Muse’s lyrics from being quite enter­tain­ing and well-craft­ed to fit the music behind them, as the per­fect mesh­ing of Muse’s relent­less elec­tri­cal hum with Bel­lamy’s vocals on “MK Ultra” or with his tri­umphant cries of “Eur-asia!” on “Unit­ed States of Eura­sia” makes up for a lack of deep­er meaning.

The Resis­tance is yet anoth­er LP in a line of strong Muse albums. While a few tracks, most notably “Guid­ing Light” are, to some degree, dull or unin­ter­est­ing, they are drowned out by excel­lent tracks like “Resis­tance” and “MK Ultra.” The Resis­tance is a great album: a pow­er­ful, tensed, extreme­ly cre­ative, occa­sion­al­ly even beau­ti­ful epic, and it cer­tain­ly stands with the best of Muse’s oth­er albums.

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