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Muse resists too much in “Resistance”

Scene | Thursday, September 17, 2009

 Despite having a large following in most of the world, Muse is yet to crack into the United States mainstream. “The Resistance”, their fifth studio album, continues Muses’ legacy of transcending musical genres to create something entirely unique. Muse can easily be called a neo-classical, space rock, electronica, alternative band and their latest album continues in that vein, adding even a hint of jazz to their already expansive genre fusion list. 
Still regardless of this authentic sound it wasn’t until this past weekend that Muse first performed on American television during the Video Music Awards. Adding further fuel to the growing fire that has become Muse fandom, “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer has often stated that Muse is one of her favorite bands and that they helped inspire her while she was writing her novels. Though this may seem discouraging to many in their appreciation of Muse, their fan base has steadily grown thanks to “Twilight” fans or “Twiheads” as they are sometimes called in Internet communities. 
Muse’s latest doesn’t appear to try to woo in new fans, instead the album is filled with six-minute tracks containing heavy vocals and allusions to literary works, as well as a concluding symphony with the added instrumentation of 40 more string performers. The excitement doesn’t end there as Muse has continued their philosophical questioning of existence and now provided listeners with additional political speculation and intrigue. There is so much packed into this album that no review could possibly scrape the surface of every aspect.
“Uprising,” the first single of the album, is very traditional Muse, which is to say it takes very much from their previous sound. Though “The Resistance” seems significantly tamer than any of the four previous albums it is significantly more musical. In concert, this song will no doubt be a thrill for attendees thanks to the shouts of “Oi” during the chorus.
The album’s second song, “Resistance,” is a direct reference to the relationship of Winston and Julia from the Orwellian novel “1984.” With lyrics such as “Love is our resistance” and “You’ll wake the thought police,” this connection seems pretty simple to make. With Matthew Bellamy singing earnestly at the top of his lungs about love, it’s very easy to believe the band’s thrill and passion.
Another standout from “The Resistance” is the track “United States of Eurasia”. With plenty of falsetto, Muse successfully recreates a very Queen-like track. The slow buildup of the song and explosion into an Arabian synthesizer piano mixture is well put together and crafts an original Eurasian sound that Freddie Mercury would no doubt have appreciated.
The album concludes with the three-track 13-minute symphony concerning attempts at population of the universe by humanity. “Exogenesis: Symphony” works the best as far as pushing the envelope of the band’s previous efforts. Combining Muse’s many genres with a 40 performer orchestra elevates their craft to another level altogether. Emotion drifts in and out with every note, thusly if humanity does leave earth, this should be their soundtrack. Sadness and excitement fill the symphony as it changes and shifts genres generating a truly powerful conclusion to this latest album. 
Overall, “The Resistance” is a bit of a disappointment. Muse simply rocks a lot less in this album. The music is amazing yet every time when a song gains momentum and explodes into a terrific guitar solo, it ends far too quickly. Instead of pursuing the buildup and growing more powerful as the track goes forward, it seems as though Muse pulls back and retracts all of their buildup. Other tracks simply do not reach their potential, it seems as though Muse is holding themselves back in order to appear more creative when sometimes all they actually need is to rock out, be it on guitar or piano. They are creative and their music is terrific but Muse can still reach greater heights. This isn’t a perfect album, it isn’t a game changing musical masterpiece but it is a great album with plenty of great tracks, lyrics, quandaries and beats.