Review – Muse: The 2nd Law

This article originally appeared in Volume XIX, Issue II of The University Observer’s Otwo supplement and online at universityobserver.ie

Over homage threatens to derail this bombastically fun record

The Resistance marked a new direction for Muse. The 2009 release saw the relatively familiar bombastic blasts and electronic swells of the past take precedence over the rocking riffs the band had been acclaimed for. However it still maintained that quintessential Muse sound. The 2nd Law, which despite seeing Bellamy reclaim his axe, somehow loses a little of that distinctive mark, with the trio wearing their influences a little too proudly on their sleeves.

The opening track ‘Supremacy’, almost too inspired by Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’, is an immediate reminder of Bellamy’s flawless ability to pull off hair-raising falsetto choruses. The album flows well though it falters a little in the middle, but it returns to form strongly enough to be forgiven. This is most notable with bassist Wolstenholme’s couplets detailing his struggle with alcoholism, while ‘Liquid State’ in particular, is an exuberant revisiting of a rawer, younger and more aggressive Muse.

‘Unsustainable’, the vastly superior of two dubstep-influenced tracks, melds gritty drops with elegant soaring strings to an unlikely great end. And how ironic it is, given all its grandiose, that the album closes with its most subdued and yet emotionally affecting track, ‘Isolated System’.

Bellamy’s lyrics are perhaps at their most simplistic and cliché-ridden; when everything is executed with such conviction and undeniable technical talent though, it’s very difficult to care, a prime example being the rousing Queen infused ‘Survival’.

Muse must be credited for constantly evolving their sound. Hopefully though, in the future, they’ll be able to rebuild what was once a more cohesive and firm foundation, one that isn’t so transparently derivative of its forefathers.

In a Nutshell: A thrilling identity crisis.

Grade: B-

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