On Sept. 14, the English supergroup Muse released the hotly anticipated The Resistance, their first album in over three years. Muse has always been known for a diverse musical style, and their versatility was profoundly displayed throughout the album.
After Muse's 2006 album Black Holes and Revelations saw the band's work featured in a bevy of video games and movies - including the memorable Watchmen trailer - Muse seemed to challenge themselves in The Resistance to create an album that couldn't be as easily exploited, even closing the CD with a three-part symphony titled "Exogenesis."
For all their conceptual creativity though, Muse's newest work will still find its way into the mainstream. "Uprising," the opening track, is a rollicking rock anthem reminiscent of their powerful sound from Black Holes and Revelations. Followed by the spacey, piano-driven "Resistance," it seems that the band is offering the listener a gradual transition from typical Muse fare into their sundry genre experiments found later in the album.
The album's third track, "Undisclosed Desires" features a pseudo-R&B backbeat replete with snapping and paired with Muse's characteristic sci-fi/love song lyrical fusion: "I want to exorcise the demons from your past / I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart."
The song is followed by the politically venomous "United States of Eurasia," which vividly lives up to the album's title with lyrics such as, "And these wars, they can't be won" and "Must we do as we're told?" After an eerie ascending chorus with chants of "Eurasia / -sia, -sia, -sia," the anti-establishment piece fades into a mellow classical piano outro, foreshadowing the classical influences present later in the album.
Despite Muse's ostensible efforts to expand their already-unique sound out of the mainstream, love songs such as "Guiding Light" and "I Belong to You" will always pique the interests of entertainment executives. Already, a remix of "I Belong to You" has been confirmed on the soundtrack for the upcoming mega-movie New Moon, cementing the band's place in the American mainstream in spite of The Resistance's experimental amalgam of classical, R&B, opera and rock music.
That isn't to say that Muse didn't seek to boost their popularity in The Resistance, however. Repetitive, energetic choruses are peppered throughout the songs, almost certainly in preparation for the band's notably extravagant sell-out concerts. "Uprising" and "United States of Eurasia" are sure to bring a roar to any arena, and the three-part "Exogenesis" symphony, for all its clichéd attempts at artistic exploration, is a brilliantly executed collision of progressive rock and classical influences.
Despite Muse's desire to make The Resistance a creative departure from much of their previous work, the album winds up as aurally scintillating as any of their earlier releases. Yes, songs will still wind up in teenage girl romances like New Moon, but the band's trademark stadium sound and album continuity more than make up for any overexposure in American pop culture.
My only recommendation for Muse: Don't make fans wait another three years before the next installment in your formidable discography.