Like a chrysalis preparing for the cocoon, Muse encases itself in a myriad of new elements.
Review by David Feltman
When British prog-rock group Muse promised its sixth album would be a departure, it wasn’t kidding. Consistently one of the more conservative prog outfits, Muse has tinkered with concept albums, multi-track suites and other genre trappings, but has never strayed too far from its signature bass heavy, electro-laden sound. That sound hasn’t been abandoned on The 2nd Law, but the band has added a lot of new elements to its pallet.
The album starts strong with “Supremacy,” which sounds like classic Muse on a grander scale. The song makes use of orchestral backing arrangements and a drum line to give it a cinematic feel. But “Supremacy” is one of the only times you can describe anything on the album as “classic Muse.”
The songs that follow never really settle on a discernible course. The band cycles through waltz-like lullabies on “Explorers” and “Save Me,” dance rock numbers like “Panic Station” and “Big Freeze” and an inexplicable dalliance with dubstep on “Madness,” “Follow Me” and especially “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable.” Muse manages to muster some inspired moments from these experiments, but the final product yields little cohesion on such a tumultuous album.
Lyrically, there’s no mistaking the underlying concept of the album. The songs are drenched in angst and apprehension of an impending energy crisis and the Darwinian social fallout to follow. However, the manic tonal shifts of the music fail to capture the dread of lead vocalist Matthew Bellamy’s words. The 2nd Law is a tumultuous album, filled with big sounds and big ideas, but lacking the strength of focus. There is a lot of energy on these songs, but all of that energy never gets properly channeled.
This album is an oddity when compared to the band’s current discography, but there’s a transitory nature too. Like a chrysalis preparing for the cocoon, Muse encases itself in a myriad of new elements in order to evolve. Hopefully the next album will bear the fruit of this metamorphosis.
You can find out more about Muse on the official website.