Epic rock band ‘Muse’ has recently released their latest album ‘The 2nd Law.’ It accomplishes a few things. Firstly, it shows that Muse’s traditional cheese ball factor could be taken even higher, to unheard of levels of sheer self-righteousness and inaccessibility. Secondly, it shows us that dubstep is uninteresting even in the hands of an accomplished rock group.
Finally, we know that whatever songwriting creativity Muse had beyond lots of smoke and loud bangs, they likely lost forever.
The 2nd Law is a hugely bombastic, illogical silly merging of tenacity, weirdness, and excessively contrived production. There are very few saving factors on the album- everyone is turned so high and so silly and so ridiculous you can’t find any actual intimate or interesting songwriting beneath the layers of failed experiments and wub wub electro-dubbing.
But Muse weren’t always like this. There was a point- 2001- where Muse was compared favorably to Radiohead. A time where money was a dream and a flavorful though vulnerable voice was needed to make the album heartfelt and sincere.
This was the Muse album ‘Origin of Symmetry.’ It found Muse in top form. Their songs were delicate yet tense. The sounds produced weren’t extraneous but all wildly purposeful and intentional. The balance between eccentricity and quaintness was meticulously crafted to create a professional and satisfying album of music.
This wasn’t the group’s debut. Their debut was ‘Showbiz,’ an album that was promising but lacked the finesse from a band more comfortable with their position. On another note, ‘Origin of Symmetry’ did not launch the group into stardom. That was in 2006 with ‘Black Holes and Revelations.’ And the rest is a sad and icky history.
See, Muse weren’t always ridiculously bombastic. There was a time where the group weren’t mega rock stars trying to uphold their level of vitality by being as over-the-top and laughably cliché as possible. In 2001, the band was smaller and discovering themselves. They were yearning for greater fame, but still blind to what the future held. But now, they are a massive band. Now, their legacy is largely intact, and their creative output could not only be lessened but bloated for a greater theatrical appeal.
‘Origin of Symmetry’ is time in a bottle, a time Muse can never revisit again without seeming regressive and perhaps even unintelligent. Muse are now wholly Muse. They are huge; they are parodies of super fame. They threw away the softness and rawness and intricate songwriting in favor of dubstep and mainstream funk grooves that maker you move but never chill and enthrall. This is the course of rock music- start off quant and in a state of worry and depth, and spiral into a world of excess and overkill.
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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