Monday, 14 September 2009

The Resistance

Never let it be said Muse are afraid to tackle the big BIG subjects. But just where exactly do you go after a revelatory experience with Absolution and Supermassive black holes?

Back to Earth. Origin of Symmetry was Muse embarking on their space rock odyssey, The Resistance is them returning home, mature, concentrated and intent on doing some serious damage.

No more angst and insular self-obsession, grown up, no longer playing games, they have landed back HARD and they don’t like what they see.

The manifesto is laid out good and strong for all to understand in Uprising (also opening in a sleepy Devon town called Teignmouth, I may have mentioned it...) Dr Who and disco,the agenda is set – rise up and take the power back...

Next, Resistance, a gentle synth intro, ominous kettle drums, simple piano hook and disco beat, but its soon obvious the answer (love is our Resistance) isn't going to be enough, the Thought Police are on to us.

Punchy stabs of synth and plucked strings usher in ‘Undisclosed Desires’, 'Map of the Problematique’ gone romantic. “I want to exorcise demons from the past/ I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart”. A sexy declaration of devotion and building a future together backed by slapped bass from Chris.

United States of Eurasia, gentle piano ballad and symphonic backdrop erupting to Arabian piano and layered chanting nodding in Queen's direction. We are called on to unite our land masses to equal the might of America, tongue is firmly in cheek (or is it?) this is the onslaught of MUSE manifesto. On my first ever listen, THIS was the track that most stuck in my head.

This dissolves into Matt's gorgeous rendition of Chopin's Nocturne in E flat major, but this is sinister, underneath there is half heard tanks planes and children culminating in a full jet flyby and what sounds disturbingly like the bass rumble of a nuclear explosion. Something is very wrong.

Straight into ‘Guiding Light’ - an Ultravox style heartbeat rhythm overlaid with clean guitar and triumphant vocals will certainly be a ‘lighter (or these days, mobile phone) waving’ gig moment. A slow and gentle lament, its clear stakes are about to be raised. We’re about to start a riot. Lines will be crossed, lives may be lost – but this is revolution.

‘Unnatural Selection’ is the Molotov cocktail, a pounding guitar riff and unrelenting bass, "pushing us beyond peaceful protest, I want to speak in a language you'll understand" . A middle eight section with plodding bass and a filthy dirty blues solo gives brief respite to ponder the destruction and recoup your energy before a return to full on Muse riff and the cry "I want the truth". UTTERLY orgasmic.

There's no relaxing though ‘Mk Ultra'. relentless fast synthesiser cuts and thumping bass warn us that “they’re breaking through”. retribution for rebellion. It’s fast paced, frantic and exciting, interspersed with heavy riffs “we’re falling…losing control” The Resistance is failing, the fight is fixed...

The 'wake' is 'I belong to you you', surprisingly jaunty, yearning yet upbeat and maybe just more then a bit inebriated, this is Matt at the piano, a basement dive, cigarette smoke fills the air, the structure changes dramatically and he gets all Edith Piaf and breaks into Mon Coer s'ouvre a ta voix from Samson and Delilah before returning to the I belong to you refrain.

The party is over, it's time to accept defeat.

Lush gorgeous spiralling strings and the Exogenesis symphony has begun.

Part one, overture, sparse falsetto lyrics and we are in trouble, "who are we / where are we / when are we?, heavily distorted guitar and vibrato strings, we are doomed

Part 2 ‘Cross Pollination’. An intense piano solo, starkly the realisation hits, it is time to abandon this condemned planet. There is no hope - except....

We must “wade through the toxic clouds / breach the atmosphere / the edge of all our fears / spread our code to the stars, its time to rescue us all/we know you can never return/tell us your final wish / we’ll tell it to the world"says Matt. We may be doomed but maybe part of us can live on

Part 3 ‘Redemption’ builds from a simple, repetitive melody reminiscent of ‘Blackout’ into the yearning euphoric refrain of “let’s start over again/this time we'll get it right/it's time to forgive ourselves”.....a gentle piano drifts to silence...

Assuming you have not already heard it, DO NOT listen to this album while washing the dog, or waiting for a bus, or cooking dinner, sit down and give it your FULL attention, it's exhausting, utterly moving and if you don't have tears in your eyes and a strange unexplained catch in your throat when it's over then you're not the person I think you are.

This is a concept on the grandest scale, an album of sheer genius and utter beauty. Not since Ziggy has there been anything like this, forget downloads and shuffle modes, this album has to be heard beginning to end in order and in it's entirety.

It'll never work live..... OH.. I was forgetting Teignmouth.... My God these three guys are clever... Imagine what it will be like with floating cubes, plasma backdrops and lasers... Roll on November..




  1. Wow! I'm exhausted just reading about it. Great review.

  2. Actually I really don't feel I have even *begun* to do the album justice (I had no idea how hard this reviewing lark was)and I haven't said half what I wanted to :-)
    I spent most of yesterday afternoon writing it, then most of the evening stripping it to bare bones just to get it semi readable...

  3. Thank you very, very much, Graham! It's an amazing piece of work, and, from what I've seen of the clips on YouTube, it very well could be the anthem of the 21st century. I am impressed!