And so, like a battered spouse returning to a lover who hasn’t quite beaten enough sense into them this morning I streamed Muse’s 6th studio album, The 2nd Law. It wasn’t actually that bad to start out with, Supremacy is a good opening track, bearing in mind I was expecting the weeble and bob of dubstep to ring out before a guitar chord could be struck. It’s grandiose in a Bond opening track kind of way, and the riff is typically Muse in a good way, there’s a bit of Kashmir thrown in for good measure as well with the strings, I’ve got to confess that seeing how I set out to hate the album, and dismiss a band I have followed for over a decade it was starting to draw me in.
After Supremacy comes Madness which doesn’t sound as out there and awful as an album track as it did when I first heard it on YouTube as a single track, it fits nicely, and while it’s not Uno or Muscle Museum or Bliss or Hypermusic or even Invincible, it’s not wholly dreadful despite the bass sounding like someone was messing about and forgot to return the settings back again before releasing it. It starts heading into this strange Queen vibe with the solo, and that’s not a wholly terrible thing either. If Muse want to continue down the stadium rock avenue then Queen are a good band to draw from. The closing vocal harmonies are also very Mercury. After that comes Panic Station which sounds like Queen being covered by Scissor Sisters, it’s not Muse but it’s not unlistenable either.
From there it starts to completely lose me though. Survival still sounds like Muse were given twenty minutes to pull a song together about the Olympics, it doesn’t fit and it’s lyrically one of their worst. Then unfortunately we get to Follow Me which starts out meaning well but soon ‘drops’ into the kind of chorus that would make me head to the bar, it’s very of the moment and I don’t mean that in a good way, I mean it’s very lazy and derivative and just not the band that I thought they were. I completely understand that bands do need to develop, especially by the time they’re releasing a sixth album but this is not growth, it’s not even enjoyable.
Just as we are getting somewhere again afterwards, and I’m slowly accepting the way the songs are going, the layers of vocal and the choppy U2-esque guitar we get to Unsustainable, which to me should be called Unforgivable. I am not a fan of dubstep but I don’t think what is displayed here is even good dubstep, it sounds like a fad track and I hope it’s something that Muse will later laugh off, like it’s their Frog Chorus, that’s how it feels. Even for them the news report intro is heavy-handed and obvious and then it just descends like a car losing control and plummeting off a cliff edge.
I can’t say I hate it, but it’s got a lot of skipability as an album. I’ll buy it, because there are some genuine moments of brilliance on there, but I wonder what is to come. I worry that I’ve lost a band that I once truly loved, that they’re going for a wider audience and that isn’t necessarily a good thing.