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Muse - The 2nd Law (Album Review)

Thursday, 04 October 2012 Written by Katie Territt
Muse - The 2nd Law (Album Review)

Before I begin this review, I should probably pre-warn you about the amount of gushing and similar positive phrasing I may spout. I've been a Muse fan for a long time, seen them live exactly 20 times, and probably can't put into words how excited I was to tear the cellophane off my copy of The 2nd Law when I bought it on release day. So there's quite a large chance that this review may rave about the album and band until the point of inducing vomit - but fear not, I will also be completely honest about the Devon trio's sixth studio album, their first in 3 years.

ImageThe album kicks off with 'Supremacy', a stormer of an intro with a signature Bellamy riff. It's not until the strings kick in that the song takes on that typical epic Muse feel. Matt's vocals tell a story, slowly building up to the chorus when his patented high-pitched tone bursts into play. 'Supremacy' could easily be a Bond theme, and has the right amount of dramatics to introduce 'The 2nd Law' to new and old Muse fans alike.

The band's second single from the album, 'Madness' is up next. For me, this song is possibly the best single release the band have produced for a while. The throbbing synths mix with Matt's almost casual vocal (a big change from what we expect from him now) to create what is probably Muse's slickest single to date. A Queen-esque feel makes this seem like a genuine "love" song rather than the political/space-age type themes that we're used to. I love it!

The beginning of the vocals in 'Panic Station' remind me of a Mighty Boosh song, as does sections of the rest of the song - I can't quite decide whether this is a good thing or not! The aggressive vocals make way for a 70's sounding falsetto chorus and some typically Muse riff-by-numbers moments - all good things in my book.

A beautifully symphonic 'Prelude' leads into the familiar intro of lead single and official Olympic 2012 song, 'Survival'. If ever a song was described as "typical Muse sounding" or "epic" then this is it. Absolutely made for the stadium's the boys will no doubt be headlining again next year, the triumphant lyrics, sing-a-long chants and heavy guitar solo's have already made this fantastic song a Muse classic.

'Follow Me' opens with baby Bingham Bellamy's heartbeat, recorded days before the little man was born. This synth-y jam is the album's first dalliance into the dubstep we were promised, and it's actually not as bad as Muse + dubstep sounded when the band first announced this taster of a new direction.

The sound of the album becomes a bit softer next with 'Animals', a song that could've easily been leftover from the 'Absolution' sessions. Hypnotic guitars and lots of atmosphere make for a pretty easy listen aside from the prison riot style ending!

Becoming a Dad has obviously given Matt Bellamy a new "muse" (pardon the pun) for his material with 'Explorers' being the lullaby he promised to make his son on this album. A dreamy track not completely unlike 'The Resistance's' 'Guiding Light'. A tender and poignant song that will surely be accompanied by some sort of acrobatic dancers, amazing lasers or paper-filled giant balloons at the live shows.

'Big Freeze'; the song Muse stole from U2. Well, not really, but they easily could've. Matt goes from wielding his axe like The Edge to crooning like Bono within the first minute of this track. I guess if you're aiming to be possibly the biggest band in the world, why not follow in the footsteps of a band who have already made their mark? Not the best track on the album by far, but we can easily forgive.

'Save Me' is the first ever Muse song sung by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. The lack of instrumental bravado and excitement is evident and it makes this barely recognisable as a Muse song. Give Chris his due, the boy can sing, but this isn't going to have me playing air guitar or dramatically miming in front of a mirror anytime soon. Slightly disappointing but nice to hear Chris being given his chance to shine.

Chris' vocals get another outing next in 'Liquid State', the Muse-ier and far superior of the two tracks he performs on the album. The signature guitars are certainly back, but this still doesn't sound Muse enough for my liking. It's a shame to say it, but the two Chris songs are possibly the "fillers" on 'The 2nd Law' and at this point, I'm wanting some Bellamy magic back in my life.

As with 'The Resistance', 'The 2nd Law' finishes with a multi-part ending. 'The 2nd Law: Unsustainable' is the familiar news story mixed with dubstep that we heard on the album teaser video. This track was apparently entirely recorded with actual, non-electronic instruments - all the more impressive. 'The 2nd Law: Isolated System' closes the album with a sound-collage of fictional news pieces. It's certainly no 'Exogenesis' or 'Knights Of Cydonia', but we shouldn't let that mar the fantastic journey it took to get to this point.

In short, 'The 2nd Law' for me is Muse back to the good ol' days of 'Black Holes and Revelations'. Not quite on par with 'Origin Of Symmetry' (I'm not sure anything ever will be) but certainly more of that comfortable Muse sound that 'The Resistance' seemed to lack in places. I genuinely wonder if the changes in Matt's home life has led to some more positive and personal lyrics rather than the waging wars of politics and the like that we saw on the last album.

I'll always be excited to hear new music from Muse and to see what new direction they'll head into, and it makes me happy to know that no matter how much they grow and experiment, at some point they'll always come back to the familiar with some songs that we'll no doubt love. I can't wait to hear some of the songs from 'The 2nd Law' live later this month for Muse gig no. 21, and I know it will be yet another spectacular tour because quite simply, Muse are incapable of anything less. Welcome back boys!

'The 2nd Law' is available to buy and download now. Muse tour the UK later this month.

Muse UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed October 24th 2012 - SECC, Glasgow
Fri October 26th 2012 - The O2, London
Sat October 27th 2012 - The O2, London
Tue October 30th 2012 - LG Arena, Birmingham
Thu November 1st 2012 - Arena, Manchester
Sat November 3rd 2012 - The O2 Dublin, Dublin

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