I’ve reviewed some Muse albums before and mentioned how they are an awesome band that deserves more attention in the States. They recently released their sixth album and…well…it exists. In actuality, it’s not all bad. There are some really fun, catchy, and good tracks found on the album, but some of the songs are boring or a bit over dramatic, even for Muse. Lack of strong, spine chilling vocals from Matt Bellamy and an overbearing presence of Queen inspiration plague the album. Rather than returning to form for their latest album, the band decides to play with their sound and the results aren’t always good.
When you first hear the new album, you will pretty much hate it. After the second time your only thought will be “What the fuck Muse? What the fuck?” By the third and fourth listen certain songs will start to grow on you and you begin to realize that while it may not be the band’s best album, it’s not all that terrible. While it does have its share of problems there are some songs that stand out from the others. One of my favorites is “Panic Station.” When I first heard it, I thought it was weird because of the way Matt is singing, but after hearing it a couple times it started to grow on me. The vocals while weird are pretty entertaining (I think they’re funny) and the “1, 2, 3, 4, fires in your eyes” during the chorus is catchy, even if it’s a little silly. A lot of fans may not like the song because it’s heavily influenced by funk. You can hear it in the heavy bassline (that will make you think of “Another One Bites the Dust”) and especially when the horns come in. While it is shocking to hear this type of music coming from Muse, it grows on you. It’s just a fun sounding song that seems like it was a blast for the guys to make.
Another song,which most fans can’t decide whether or not they like, that stands out is “Follow Me.” For fans looking for the Muse of yore, this is the song that sounds most like their older material. It has spacey music that you can get lost in and probably has the best vocals from the entire album. Though the music has some electronic elements for some reason the song sounds really pretty. Maybe it’s because of how Matt is singing or the message of keeping someone safe from harm that does it, but it’s one of those songs that sounds like it would be perfect for listening to while sitting underneath the stars. And while the lyrics may not be the greatest thing Muse has even written, they are still sincere and sweet even if a little mushy.
There are tons of songs here that fans will either love or hate. One such song is “Unsustainable.” Muse fans lost their shit when they heard the dubstep inspired music replacing Bellamy’s insane guitar solos. I’ve actually grown to like the song after awhile. And the song is pretty impressive because the band made those dubstep sounds with their own instruments, rather than a synthesizer. “Animal” and “Survival” are both pretty cool songs as well. “Animal” has this cool, mellow music, with a slight Latin guitar vibe that puts you at ease. It just sounds really cool. “Survival” on the other hand, has its ups and downs. It has a great positive message and the guitar riff is awesome, but it’s almost too epic. When the strings and the chanting choir comes in, it’s just overwhelming. What makes me dislike the song is that it actually sounds like they wrote with the intent of it being the Olympic theme, rather than just writing it because they wanted to. It’s a song that you have to be in the right mood for to listen to it.
The opening track “Supremacy” is a tricky one. It’s starts out like a normal Muse song with an awesome bass riff introducing the song, but then the string instruments come in and suddenly it sounds like it’s the intro music for Satan coming up from Hell. The beat is actually pretty reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” It then switches to a military drumline when Matt begins to sing. Later on, they toss in a guitar solo that sounds like it was ripped from a Queen song. The track is hard to pin down because it sounds like they mashed a bunch of different styles together for one track, but it’s still pretty interesting. One of the lesser songs from the album is “Explorers.”
The song starts off pretty nice with it’s dreamy, soft, and light music. Even the vocals sound pretty nice here, but after the song hits the two minute mark it gets old. It becomes boring and repetitive, not to mention the save the planet message becomes overbearing. “Liquid State” and “Save Me” are hit or miss songs. What’s interesting is that bass player Christopher Wolstenholme takes over vocals duties for both tracks. He actually doesn’t sound all that bad, but of course he’s no Matt Bellamy. But the problem with his songs is that they get pretty dull. The music and the vocal style don’t change very often, so it’s easy to lose interest in the song after about a minute.
The two biggest problems of the record are the vocals and the Queen influence. If any of you have read my past Muse reviews you know that I absolutely love Bellamy’s voice. It’s just out of this world. It’s so damn beautiful at times that when he hits those falsetto notes it gives you goosebumps. It’s one of those voices that when it comes on, you instantly know who it is. But the vocals on this album aren’t like that. Don’t get me wrong they’re still good, but they’re not spine tingling. It’s like Bellamy held himself back from being awesome. There are some songs where he doesn’t even sound like himself.
The Queen influence is just overbearing. Muse doesn’t hide the fact that they love Queen, but that love took over this album. It’s just too damn much. The guitar solos sound like Brain May, some of the vocal harmonies sound like they’re from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and even the song structure is similar to Queen. It’s gets to the point where you’re not even sure if you’re listening to Muse anymore. There are times when it sounds like they’re just plain copying, rather than being inspired. I get it. Queen is awesome, but Muse please tone it down.
Overall, the album gets 7/10. It’s far from being the best Muse album, but it’s not as horrible as some people make it out to be. It definitely takes some getting used to, since the band abandons their rock sound for this release. Some of the songs are at least interesting enough to catch your attention, but some of the others are just boring. The overwhelming presence of the Queen sound and unenthusiastic vocals from Matt Bellamy weigh down the album, but if you give it another a chance, there is a least one song that will grow on you.