Muse’s fifth album, The Resistance, is a perfect display of what the Brit band does best: It blends hard rock rhythms with haunting, orchestral melodies to create one very eclectic listening experience. But, while Muse’s muses can be easily discerned through the orchestral album’s duration, it is the band’s obsession with the macabre that unites the sonically disparate tracks and sets the band apart. With its paranoid lyrics, sultry synthesizers and obsession with all things morbid, Muse turns its fixation on the sensual aspects of death, captivity and resistance into a truly beautiful aural experience.
I would consider myself a casual Muse fan. While 2006’s Supermassive Black Hole is definitely on my top 10 list of all-time-favorite tracks, there are certain pieces of the band’s oeuvre I just cannot stand. Count The Resistance in the former category.
“Uprising,” the album’s first single released earlier this summer, is a foot-stomping “fight song for rebellion” with so much attitude that it is hard to skip past. Later tracks show how Muse has mastered pastiche perfection. Look no further than “United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage),” which features a delicate piano solo, floating strings and an eerily alluring, monotone voice in the intro. Then lead singer Matthew Bellamy comes into the mix, singing of his disheartenment over a war that is splitting the unity of “these states.”
Suddenly, a very loud, Queen-inspired crescendo into the chorus occurs, complete with Freddy Mercury-esque vocals and that unmistakable wailing electric guitar. I was expecting some sort of long, drawn-out anthem like “We Are the Champions,” but instead the short-lived chorus leads into a minor-key, Middle Eastern-inspired melody. The song ends just as it began: with a soft piano solo. This time, it’s Chopin’s “Nocturne No. 2 in E-Flat Major,” with the industrialized sounds of children and jet engines swirling around in the background.
I found The Resistance to be quite a compelling listening experience. Whether you’re a loyal Muse fan or find yourself asking, “Muse who?” you won’t be able to help being swept away by the band’s latest symphonic overture.