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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