A Muse album that’s progressive and challenges its listeners... Who’d have thought it?
The opener, Supremacy, is a fresh and encouraging track, which opens the album well, and doesn’t contain as many oddities as the songs released prior to the album. A dramatic orchestral theme punctuates the track, before some classic Bellamy vocals pierce through.
Sadly, this song is followed by the below-par single ‘Madness’, which is certainly a song that grows on you, but not enough to be comparable to the big Muse singles from past albums. A fairly plodding electronic progression that sounds a little hollow and empty, much like a sub-par sketch show without a laugh track, is all you get for the first couple of minutes. From there it does pick up; a nicely punctuated guitar riff is followed by a sudden explosion of emotion and intensity which the rest of the track missed.
Panic Station might well be the best track on the album, with a bit of funk in the bassline and memorable lyrics. It’s a fine example of Muse getting it right when they delve into new styles.
The fairly pointless ‘Prelude’ follows, and leads into ‘Survival’; probably the best known of the songs due to its connection to the Olympics. A solid track with slightly grating backing vocals, it still isn’t Muse at their best.
‘Follow Me’ is a song that’s caused a lot of contention in the fan base, along with ‘Unsustainable’, for the use of dubstep, a move which is considered to be a ‘sell-out’ by some fans. However it turns out to be one of the best tracks on the album, and is bound to be a great hit at the live shows. ‘Big Freeze’ (This one does contain elements of Queen, as many people are keen to point out) and ‘Unsustainable’ are two of the more interesting tracks from then on, the others are fairly average. Liquid State is also a fine track, but certainly doesn’t sound typical of Muse styles (as it’s written and sung by the bassist).
If it was a release by a new band it would be a highly commendable stand alone record; but compared to past Muse albums it’s certainly not the best (although probably better than Resistance).
I’d still recommend giving it a listen, because it is without doubt still a good album, and Muse are still great music writers and players; but don’t expect it to have such a big impact on you as ‘Origin’ or any of their older albums. If you’re a diehard fan of the older Muse albums there is a chance you might want to sit this one out, especially if you didn’t like ‘Resistance’. But otherwise it’s a pretty good addition to any CD collection.