Time for a New Muse
Muse's 'The 2nd Law' album review
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 15:10
One of the most hyped up bands in the last decade, English rock-band Muse released their sixth studio album, ‘The 2nd Law,’ last week. This was their first album since 2009s Grammy Award winning album ‘The Resistance.’ In the run up to the album, Muse released a promotional trailer for the album which featured dub-step music instead of the Bellamys trademark space-rock guitar. This led many to question how experimental their new album would be. While several new things were tried, such as bassist Christopher Wolstenholm contributing two songs to the album, the use of dub-step on several songs, and gospel influenced riffs, ‘The 2nd Law’ comes across as a repetitive flat record with almost no surprises.
During Muse’s rise to fame, their most apparent influence was Radiohead’s electronic-rock isolation music, made famous in OK Computer. Starting in their previous album, Muse has tried to replicate Queen’s beats and song structures. Normally, Queen would be a great influence to have, but in this case there is almost no variation between the two. Songs like ‘Madness,’ ‘Panic Station,’ and ‘Follow Me,’ only echo classics such as ‘I Want to Break Free,’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’
Like other Muse albums, ‘The 2nd Law’ also tries to serve as political commentary. This album falls into the same trap that other giants like Green Day have fallen into. While trying to be political, they are too vague, to the point where there is no meaning behind the lyrics. Like a politician making promises on the campaign trail but not pointing to any specifics, Muse only rambles with no substance. You can’t have a protest album if you’re not going to actually protest anything.
Wolsentenholm contributed the songs ‘Save Me’ and ‘Liquid State’ to the album. Both songs deal with his struggles with depression and alcoholism. While deeply personal, these songs seemed to be thrown into the end of the album in no coherent fashion. They are then followed by ‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable,’ and ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System.’ If trying to be abstract like Radiohead was in their last album ‘The King of Limbs,’ then I can see what they were trying to do here, but it didn’t have the same effect. Instead of sounding creative or innovative, these electronic composed songs just sound like they are trying too hard.
The highlights from the album come when the band leaves the political realm and go to romanticism. Songs like ‘Animals’ and ‘Explorers’ are good because the songs aren’t too focused on their craftiness, but instead on the actual feeling that they are trying to get across.
What was once one of the best up and coming English bands at the turn of the century has settled on a sound that is running out of variations.