Dub-Step. A word that would never have been associated with Muse had they not announced elements of it appearing on their upcoming release. As what I’d call myself, a ‘loyal’ Muse fan, the announcement kept me on my toes for the upcoming months, in constant apprehension that Muse might finally be ‘cashing in’ and just going for the easy route, rather than continuing to display their fantastic knowledge of instrumentation and song-writing. The easiest way to explain this would be to discuss Maroon 5, and compare their first album where actual instruments were played, with their final album where everything is auto tuned and popped out to the maximum. It might be useful to say here that I’m not a fan of dub-step in the slightest, and that my apprehension might be eagerness in other fans.
Moving on, it seems though that Muse hasn’t taken the route of cashing out. ‘The 2nd Law’ is almost a surprise, as it does contain elements of dub-step, but it also contains elements of almost everything that can come to mind! Some songs on the album sound like they were retrieved from the cutting room floor of a Queen album, whilst others sound like they never quite made their way into the Doctor Who soundtrack. All this tells me, is that Muse are once again demonstrating the extraordinary range of song-writing ability, to be able to fall into such a wide variety of genres and styles. And when you compare the album to the previous five albums, the variety becomes more apparent. I find that with this in mind, that the elements of dub-step can be forgiven, and almost admired in a few songs.
A first listen to the album makes me think that the only thing the album will do is alienate many of its listeners, once again causing a divide amongst fans that ‘The Resistance’ also caused. When ‘United States of Eurasia’ was released, showing a first taste for ‘The Resistance’, many fans seemed hesitant that Muse could sound in such a way. I remember personally relishing in a sound that echoes back to one of England’s greatest bands, Queen. We can see that on ‘The 2nd Law’ that this tribute to Queen is once more opened up, only with more regularity.
There are many songs that stand out on the album. The album’s first official single release, ‘Madness’ is one of the highlights of the album, showcasing an eletronica side of Muse, whilst retaining some elements that are distinctly ‘Muse-y’. Matt’s vocals are at their best, yet again, and its with the vocals that the song finds its strength. Other highlights include ‘Explorers’, which opens up with a beautiful playing of the piano, reminding me of songs like ‘Invincible’ and ‘Guiding Light’. Perhaps the most interesting songs on this album though are the ones where Chris sings lead vocals instead. It is one of many surprises on the album, and almost unexpected. It’s Chris’s voice that helps to make ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’ two of the stand-out songs on the album. Chris never breaks out into a falsetto like Matt, but at the same time he doesn’t need too. Instead, all Chris needs to do is provide the Muse sound with a different kind of vocal. And with an album like The 2nd Law, where Muse push themselves and many of the songs sound unlike anything they’ve done before, the timing is perfect for Chris to demonstrate vocal.
Overall, the album is a rather good in places. It actually contains all the kicks and punches that their previous albums had, and the calm quiet moments. The thing with the album is that whilst having all the punches, they’re just considerably different to their previous work, which has always been admired and adored. The music is in places, distinctly unlike anything they’ve done before, and it’s with this that they’ve paved their way for experimentation. I admire a band that attempts to take risks in order to try something new. It is only when Muse finally give up on their instruments and vocals will my opinion of them be lowered.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Save Me
- The 2nd Law: Isolated System
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