Wednesday, February 13, 2013


YEAR:  2012
LABEL:  Warner Bros.
TRACK LISTING:  Supremacy,  Madness,  Panic Station,  Prelude,  Survival,  Follow Me,  Animals,  Explorers,  Big Freeze,  Save Me,  Liquid State,  The 2nd Law:  Unsustainable,  The 2nd Law:  Isolated System
IMPRESSIONS:  Before we get to Muse's 2nd Law, let's discuss Muse's 1st Law:  that is, the fact that Muse wears its influences on its sleeve.  Muse has been described as "sounding like" other bands (Radiohead, in particular) and this album is no exception.  Just listening to the album's first three songs perfectly illustrates this fact.  You simply cannot hear the album opener "Supremacy" without hearing Queen performing it (with an added "James Bond Theme" chord progression to spice the mix) and the catchy hit single "Madness" is SOOOOO offa George Michael's FAITH album; it's the song George Michael would've recorded if he was still trying anymore.  And song number three "Panic Station" is something like a lost INXS track.  While we're ticking off "influence" boxes, listen to how much "Big Freeze" recalls U2 with it's Edge-like jangly guitar and even Matthew Bellamy's lead vocal seems deliberately styled after Bono.  If you're reaching for bombast, there's probably no better exponent.   However, the fact that much of Muse's sound may be "homage-y" makes it no less entertaining.  Just look at a Quentin Tarantino movie and all the fun you can have with that.  As for Muse's 2nd Law, that refers to the second law of thermodynamics which states:  "...the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium -- the state of maximum entropy."  What that means is that Muse has created a concept album concerning "the story of a resource-strapped planet that can no longer support its inhabitants".  So recycle those plastic bottles, folks.  This is not a quiet, intimate-sounding album; the sound is big BIG BIG!!!  Operatic, in fact, which makes the comparison to Queen appropriate.  The trudging, anthemic "Survival" (which featured prominently in the recent London Olympics I did not watch) is also Queen-like in its over-the-top baroqueness.  In fact, rather than the usual Radiohead comparison, I think "THE 2ND LAW" is most inspired by Queen's rock operatic sound (listen to "Explorers" for yet another song you can actually hear Freddie Mercury singing in your head).  It's also nice to hear Muse playing with the time signatures (a la "Animals" 6/4).  The result is an album which is refreshingly bombastic in these extremely boring musical times when the music of Lady Gaga is viewed as "exciting".  If Muse's newest album isn't exactly "original", at least it's interesting.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  Supremacy,  Madness,  Panic Station,  Prelude,  Survival,  Animals,  Explorers,  Liquid State,  The 2nd Law:  Unsustainable,  The 2nd Law:  Isolated System
GUEST ARTISTS:  David Campbell (orchestral arrangements & conductor on "The 2nd Law:  Unsustainable") 
FACT SHEET:  THE 2ND LAW is Muse's sixth album.  The album cover art represents a map of the pathways of the brain "tracking the circuits in our head and how we process information with bright, neon colors".   

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