New Release Tuesday: Muse

British rock band Muse's first album in over 3 years is well worth the wait for those dedicated fans
British rock band Muse's first album in over 3 years is well worth the wait for those dedicated fans
Three years seems like a hell of a long time -- especially when the only thing filling the void during that time is a tantalizingly superb album that showcases just how a rock band can reinvent their sound and capture a wider mainstream appeal. Those three years are filled with repeat listens of past albums, quietly anticipating the release of what is sure to be another groundbreaking, genre-defying album. For fans of British rockers Muse, this reality was all too real. The band took three years between 2006's Black Holes and Revelations and their latest album, The Resistance, which hits store shelves today. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when that absence is shattered by a bombastic, grandeur-filled statement, the heart in question needs nothing more than to bask in the glory of one of rock's truly innovative bands.

The Resistance, simply put, continues what Muse started with their last album, Black Holes and Revelations. All early comparisons for the band pointed towards a slow evolution into the second coming of rock gods Queen, thanks in part to the release of lead single "Uprising" and the very "Bohemian Rhapsody" sounding "United States of Eurasia," a purposely leaked track. While these comparisons fit fine, they stray from what was started by the band back in 2006. Black Holes introduced a different sound for the band -- one that compiled all things menacing, funky, piano-laden and astrology-themed. That album's lead single, "Supermassive Black Hole," is an absolute departure from the band's earlier sound on albums like Origin of Symmetry and Absolution. It also has an indescribable falsetto-funk quality to it that shows just what direction the band was headed in with their newfound, prolific sound.

That same sound has found a new home with The Resistance -- moving out of Black Holes' shell and into grandiose, orchestral and overblown new digs. The band is aiming for the moon with their latest effort, and why the hell shouldn't they? They already had the music scene on edge with the early release of the aforementioned "Uprising" and "United States" tracks, showing just how much the band is embracing those non-traditional rock instruments like violins, pianos and even an oboe. The band is at their creative best when exploring these different sounds -- yet they still manage to remember what got them to where they are in the first place: rock music.

Starting off the album with the rollicking "Uprising" is no mistake -- Muse has to satiate that need for making thumping, still kinda funky rock music, and "Uprising" accomplishes just that. Joining that thumping backbeat are some handclaps and Matthew Bellamy's towering vocals, quite possibly the band's most devastating weapon. His singing style -- that yearning, wavering method laced with the occasional falsetto warble -- is the band's most endearing quality and also it's biggest draw.

A song like "Undisclosed Desires" starts off like it could become an R&B song with an ambiguous beat and some sharp violins, but it is ultimately overcome by Bellamy's vocals and Dominic Howard's crashing drums. It is an incredibly versatile song on an equally versatile album.

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No song shows off that versatility quite like "I Belong To You (+Mon Coeur S'ouvre A Toi)." The album is like the little, even funkier brother of "Supermassive Black Hole," and it demands multiple listens. I found myself floored that a song like "I Belong To You" was on the album, and I immediately took to the song, seeing it as the ugly duckling of the album. It is just too damn charming and so different from anything Muse has done, yet it establishes perfectly just what sound -- what grandiose, over-the-top ideal -- that the band was trying to achieve on The Resistance. The song meanders through an oddly-placed, yet fitting piano/vocal breakdown right in the middle, but on the other side of that lies an oboe solo. As odd as it sounds, that oboe solo is fucking perfect and complements the entire song, if not the entire album.

The Resistance, then, exceeds any quick expectations that may have been placed on it over those three long years of waiting. I'm not sure anyone could have correctly predicted what would come out of Bellamy and company after what they accomplished with Black Holes and Revelations -- and that's what makes a band like Muse so exciting. They can and will come out of left field to deliver a musical masterpiece that no one saw coming and no one thought could be accomplished. The Resistance is truly out-there, unique and quirky -- in all the right ways.

The Resistance is out today on Warner Bros. Check out Muse's myspace at www.myspace.com/muse.


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