Monday, July 31, 2006

Album Review - Muse - Black Holes And Revelations

Muse? Their 4th album? Have they finally conquered the world like I always hoped they would?

IGUN's feelings are split in 2 as we prepare to write this review. On one side were like proud parents, watching at the cap & gown ceremony of our bands graduation day, sat with other parents whose bands have made the grade & taking a ridiculous amount of photographs as they toss their caps in the air. Or as in this case, their album covers. On the other side we feel nothing but cynicism and post-underground arrogance, how dare they change their sound to fit the common ears of our top 20, how dare they say the words 'commercial' and 'dance floor filler' in the same sentence. This is a band that writes tunes as crazy as Uno & as nerdy as Megalomania, stick those on your dance floor and 'groooove' to them. Alas, here at IGUN we know better than to let something as trivial as feeling disrupt our always spot-on reviews (Wahey!) so with those early thoughts pushed to one side for now, lets put on the c.d. and begin.

The first song, Take A Bow is pure Muse. From the trademark lyrics right down to the dark spiralling synths here’s a track that sits well on darker second album Origin of Symmetry and its also business as usual for Starlight which is set to be the next single. This sounds like a track born out of the Absolution sessions, a love song, which sees Matt Bellamy attempting to woo his lady and one in which also contains the line “Our hopes and expectations/black holes and revelations”. Supermassive Black Hole follows which is by far the most anti-Muse song that Muse have ever created. Its not theatrical and its not Progressive and to make matters worse chubby Womble Chris Moyles has declared on his Radio 1 breakfast show that It’s ‘the best thing Muse have ever done’. This is bad. Apparently emulating from a time spent in New York listening to Franz Ferdinand, its funky beat and fuzzy guitar coupled with Matt’s ‘Knob caught in zip’ Prince like yelp should not wash well with hardcore fans. Or should it? As I listen I can’t help but notice I’m dancing on IGUN’s review table. Mr Turner wont be happy with me but I cant help it, it’s a double-mint, funk-tastic, hip-swinging belter that the most-die hard of Muse fans will harbour a secret love for and one that commercial music listeners all over the world will crave for weeks to come.

Map Of The Problematique sounds like The Pet Shops boys having a fight with The Foo Fighters and Assassin will damn near blow your head off with its heavy riffs and System Of A Down style solo’s. Its also a song that deals with Matt’s ever growing fear of War and general world destruction containing the lyrics “War is overdue/this time its come for you”. The softer, acoustic songs that appear like Invincible & Soldiers Poem are also real winners showcasing the bands ability to turn down the volume and tap into the world around them. The latter, Soldiers Poem, written as a letter from a soldier sent to War against his will is particularly poignant considering the current circumstances in the Middle East and other troubled parts of the world. Hoodoo comes with the use of Mexican style Mariachi guitars and pounding pianos that work so well with many of Muse’s songs, this one in particular sounding like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’. But its album closer Knights Of Cydonia that really demonstrates Muse’s power and imagination, starting off with the sound of lasers and pounding horses we have a tune that draws comparisons to a Peter Gabriel led Genesis and to a lesser extent a super-theatrical Queen. “No ones gonna take me alive/The time has come to make things right” screams Matt as he sings and manages to pull one of those ‘Yes’ guitar solo’s out of the cosmos.

And all my cynical fear and feeling are gone. Blown away into the universe as Muse flex with a confidence and a self-belief that’s never been seen before. Yes they’ve attempted something different in parts but by sheer will of force and in the face of adversity from some of their own fans they’ve pulled it off. Coming across with an almost “I don’t care if you like it cos I know its good” attitude that somehow remains sincere and manages to add a touch cool that some people will tell you has evaded them in previous efforts. This fourth album confirms Muse’s place at the top of the tree when it comes to British rock bands and it will only add to their already huge fan base around the world. Graduation day it is then. Pass the tissues love. I’m so proud.

Words By Chad

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