It’s been almost three year’s since Exeter’s finest unleashed their third album 'Absolution'. Time has been kind to Muse. Against all odds, the likes of Snow Patrol and Hard Fi have strangely failed to steal their crown as Britain’s finest rock act and with Radiohead still dithering around with electrodes and record deals, that won’t change any time soon.
At a typically lavish bash held in a trendy west London club, the band unveiled the fourth LP ‘Black Holes And Revelations’ with a small playback party. In fervent anticipation of their headlining set at this year’s Carling Weekend: Reading and Leeds Festivals, we went along to get a preview of The Year's rock album and bring you some of the highlights from our first listen.
Take A Bow
The opener is typically weird, wired with swirls of synthy Star Wars sounds it quickly morphs into a crazy psychedelic space parade underpinned by a penetrating, dance beat. Make no mistake, this is a ROCK epic that builds and builds. It feels as if the boys really are taking a bow.
Surefire single. The massive drum and bass possesses that typically deep, dark and chunky reasonance that Muse produce so well. The light and airy piano melody that overpins will pacify their early fans, as will the U2-ish guitars which take it into a dark crunchy bridge section. The chorus is quite incredible, with Bellamy at his most vocally operatic.
Supermassive Black Hole
The lead single off the album is a bit of a misdirection, being as it is, the most understated thing her. It’s Muse going electro and it strangely works. Sung in falsetto throughout, it’s a definite disco hit that’s got smacks of New York hedonism sweating from every pore. It boasts the kind of control and sleaze that would make the Pet Shop Boys proud and could well help Muse fully penetrate the mainstream. Watch the video here!
Map of the Problematique
Normal service is resumed here with a tune borne halfway between Interpol and early-Prodigy. Kicking off in tribal pop mode and evolving into something more rocky, it boasts a tremendously exciting guitar section then ends far too abruptly.
A piano ballad featuring some magically sensitive lyrics and truly blissful melodies. A smooth and wonderfully sensitive war tune that slightly recalls the beauty of ‘Unintended’.
Kicking off with lightly rolling military drums it unfolds from a feisty organ sound which gives the song its main resonance. It’s extremely melodic which a ‘church hymn’ feel to it and features the chorus line ‘together we're invisible' over supermassiverocking tribal rhythms. It ends in classic MUSESTYLE and is another potential single. True enormousness.
A pumping heavy metal guitar riot, it’s this album’s ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Despite the brooding heaviness the vocals are light and chanting, with the best drumming on the album – some huge, fast and technical drum fills. This is the album’s ‘go fucking mental’ rock opus. Dom Howard plays out of his skin.
Another potential single, it boasts one enormous drum sound overlaid with screeching guitars with a similar feel to ‘Time Is Running Out’. An extremely cool and catchy.
City Of Delusion
With a slightly Spanish tinge care of the Flamenco guitar this is one seriously clever tune. A massive guitar hit with classical Spanish violins over wild operatic sounds. It is frightening quite how good this is and overwhelming the sound. Just when you think they can’t push it any further, there’s….a trumpet solo. Yes. A fucking trumpet solo.
This sixties-esq bluesy guitar track is another instant tune and could quite happily sit on the radio.
Knights Of Cydonia
This is the soundtrack to some medieval space battle with intergalactic cosmic knight galloping at a million light years per second on a star horse, slaying space demons with wild swipes from his atom powered blow nuclear lightsaber. It’s breathtakingly powerful; driving and features probably the hugest guitar solo of the album with one of Bellamy’s finest vocal performances.
So what are the revelations then? Well, that Muse have created the best rock album of year won’t come as much of a surprise to many. But the fact that somehow they have managed to progress from ‘Absolution’ without either losing their sound, their stride or becoming too sonically obese is quite remarkable. In some respects ‘Black Holes…’ is a bit of side step, with tracks like ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ more at home on a Fischerspooner record.
Much of the record’s beauty will of course be realised over repeated listens, but the quality of their new songs will definitely not disappoint long term fans and with several massive hits in waiting the Snow Patrol buying plebs of Great Britain will hopefully realise that British rock really does begin and end with Muse.
Check muse.mu for the latest happenings or view their new video here.