Muse has always been somewhat over the top, a little flamboyant, operatic, experimental and even, at times, uplifting. The raging success of their last album “Black Holes and Revelations” has carried them through for three years but now they are back with “The Resistance”. It is a little more risky than their previous albums and, at times, doesn’t quite work or seems a little too melodramatic. However, on the whole, the album is great and crescendos with a truly awe inspiring three track experimental symphony that, while not meshing with the rest of the album, is very cool and very Muse.
When you first start listening to the album you are presented with a track that could have easily been lifted from their previous album. The first single “Uprising” is a song that typifies the theme of the album. Inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian (and incredible) book “1984”, the song proclaims “They will not force us. They will stop degrading us. They will not control us. We will be victorious”. It is uplifting in a typically Muse way, using their stadium rock style as a call to arms of sorts.
The second track “Resistance” continues the drama starting with some beautiful piano melodies and building to a guitar heavy conclusion all the while pushing the message that “Love is our resistance”.
“Undisclosed Desires “makes a complete shift from the beginning of the album with a far more electronic sound and a much slower tempo. It still has a typical Muse feel but it is something new from them at the same time. It works well and is more about as close to a rock ballad as you are likely to get from the band.
In the past, Muse has been compared to Queen and when you hear “United States of Eurasia” you can see why. The song is so silly at times and completely over the top but it is pure joy. It is so obvious that the band loves these kinds of operatics and the way they do it, it works brilliantly. It doesn’t work as well when listening to it over headphones but at a live concert, this would be quite an experience. It seems Muse takes performing to a crowd into consideration when they produce an album.
“Guiding Light” is very cheesy and another style change from the rest of the album. It uses guitar in ways that music just doesn’t seem to these days. However, instead of sounding outdated, the song feels more inventive that that. The lyrics aren’t of the calibre you’d expect from the band and when it comes to the cheese factor, this track may have taken it a little too far. However, some fans may love it to pieces, it just felt a little weak compared with the tracks that precede it.
The album then makes another shift in pace with a fast paced rock number complete with distorted vocals with an almost grunge feel. The lyrics are quite stirring and on repeated listens the song has grown on me quite a bit. At first, my reaction was “meh” but now I like it quite a bit. The next track “Mk Ultra” hasn’t been quite so fortunate. This is the one track that is destined to be skipped on every listen. It just feels a little generic and dull. “I belong to you” is yet another style change complete with French lyrics. It is totally out of left field and oscalates between quiet moments, the loud ostentatious and some almost ragtime piano. It is totally insane but works beautifully.
The final three tracks is the 15 minute symphony “Exogenesis”. The emotions it conjures are sublime and stirring. The way the instrumental elements and understated lyrics meld together is quite striking and as the symphony progresses, the story that unfolds is remarkable. This is Muse at their most indulgent but it works so brilliantly that you are happy to let them do their thing. That being said, this isn’t something that you will listen to every time you put the album on but more something you have to be “in the mood” to sit through.
“The Resistance” isn’t as good as “Black Holes and Revelations” simply because it lacks cohesion. On their own, quite a few of the tracks are incredible but as an album feels all over the place due to the continual style and tempo shifts. Considering the experimental nature of the band though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but when comparing it to other Muse offerings, it falls short just a little. When I first heard the album I wasn’t overly impressed and many Muse fans that I have spoken to felt the same way but on repeated listens it has grown on me and has found its way onto my MP3 player rotation.