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Muse: The 2nd Law
A return to form for supermassive prog rockers
Dave Hanratty, 03 Oct 2012
Let’s get one thing straight for a start, shall we?
The 2nd Law is a vast improvement on 2009’s The Resistance, a record that risked self-parody and polarised Muse fans as a consequence. The 2nd Law (a reference to the world of thermodynamics) sees them pull back from that record’s overarching grandiosity. Sure, there are plenty of moments written exclusively for the stadium here, notably opener ‘Supremacy’. As an ode to Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone and John Williams, it effectively nails the widescreen schtick. As a song in its own right? I’m not so sure.
However you read that opening stratagem, fears of Muse: The Musical are quickly allayed with the introduction of ‘Madness’, a lovingly measured work that thoroughly rewards the listener’s patience. It’s a bold, mature piece, one that remains grounded even when Bellamy takes off on a characteristically ebullient six string excursion. They follow this moment of solemn contemplation with a disco stomp that’s infectious enough to give Maroon 5 and Scissor Sisters a run for their money. ‘Panic Station’, a shameless nod to the most flamboyant corners of pop, is utterly knowing, confirming that when Muse rein in the stadium leanings, they still boast terrific energy. Ditto for the Pet Shop Boys-inflected ‘Follow Me’.
Kudos must go to bassist Chris Wolstenholme, whose writing and vocal talents are featured on to back-to-back efforts ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’. His voice provides a nice contrast to Bellamy’s more ornate style. One of the challenges presented by The 2nd Law is that it presents a more varied angle on Muse’s muse, shifting curiously between the stadium and the dancefloor. It seems Muse are at a crossroads. On this occasion, fans will join them in their search for musical advancement with relish.