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The 2nd Law Simon Jay Catling , September 25th, 2012 05:32

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"There's still a few of them left" thought Matt Bellamy bitterly as he surveyed the Reading Festival crowd in 2011, dark thoughts rudely interrupting the throbbing swell in his trousers brought on by shocks from the Kaoss pad crudely fitted to the front of his Manson guitar. That was how he reasoned it to the rest of Muse anyway; in reality this on-stage physical manifestation of his undisclosed desires came from an overpowering sense of self-satisfaction, of the knowledge that, five years after he broke into John Deacon's home and stole the last untampered bottle of Essence of Bulsara's Legacy for 2006's 'Knights Of Cydonia', he was still getting away with the slurry-filled repackaging of some of rock's more grandiose moments with current flavours of the month and passing it off as invention.

Not just getting away with it either; Muse were flourishing. With each new album they were playing to more people, the only place big enough contain them now was … space? He used to talk a lot of shit about space back in the old days, throwing conspiracy theorists names like Zecharia Stitchin at journalists, and laughing in that weird high-pitched gulping way of his that sounded like a dog trying not to retch, as he tried to explain the existence of aliens and their threat to mankind. He'd not really meant any of it, they never had; he could churn out these banal conversational and lyrical oddities out in his sleep and they'd still get paid a fuckload to pretend at being an experimental mainstream rock band.  

Yep, the only blemish on his happiness was them. They lurked, gaunt of complexion, clad in black hoodies that adorned the words of albums long-since banished from being mentioned at Muse HQ like Showbiz and, after tonight's show, Origin Of Symmetry. They were the few who'd resisted brainwashing, complaining bitterly under YouTube videos, on blogs and social networking that their beloved trio would rather keep company with The Spice Girls and Maroon 5 than the ageing titans of American rock they used to like Deftones and the Smashing Pumpkins. He sighed as his erection fell limp. "We're really going to have to fuck them off with this next album," he muttered under his breath...

And so they have. The 2nd Law is the album that will finally bludgeon heads filled with lingering memories of songs like 'Muscle Museum', 'Hyper Music' and 'Micro Cuts'; Reading Festival in 2011 saw the band do what Radiohead probably should've done to avoid constant comparisons with their earlier work, when they played Origin Of Symmetry in full and thus effectively drew a line underneath it. Now, with their sixth LP, we're fully into a world where ghosts of Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir', Gustav Holst's 'Mars The Bringer Of War' and the James Bond theme tune emerge within the first song of the album alone; where they decide to alter Queen's (who else) 'I Want To Break Free' so that it sounds like it's being fed out of an old dot matrix printer whilst their diminutive front man does the same "let me sex you" style singing that he employed to cringeworthy effect on some of previous album The Resistance.

It's a frankly bewildering place, one where incongruous touchstones are flung at the listener thick and fast. Ever wanted to know what U2's stadium anthemia, the late 80s disco pop of Pet Shop Boys and the US 'brostep' of 2012 thrown together sound like? Muse seemed to as well, fleetingly on 'Follow Me', but they'd clearly got bored and moved on by the time of the triumvirate's inevitably unholy mess. How about some of INXS' more overbearing sheen with New Order's less dignified acid house moments? It's there for you on 'Panic Stations'. Heck, they career around genres so carelessly on The 2nd Law that they're even redoing their own songs without realising it; 'Explorers' is but lyrics away from the chorus of 2006's 'Invincible'; 'Survival' is a bigger, brasher though lyrically lazier version of 'United States Of Eurasia'. This isn't an album; it's a series of OCD thoughts thrown together in passing, the only sense of cohesion coming during a rare chance for bassist Chris Wolstenholme to take centre stage on vocals, for the back-to-back balladeering soft-rock of 'Save Me' and Foo Fighters-influenced guitar chug of 'Liquid State'.

Dotting around bits of this largely unpalatable gunk are snippets of crowd noises from unspecified riots and news bulletins just to remind us that Bad Things are happening in the world. Muse have always had a vague message against The Man, even when The Man pays them an awful lot of money and allows them to be the sound of big corporate sports days. When these spoken word parts appear, it's as if you're listening in to some sort of bite-size kids' news programme, to the extent that it was surprising that the video for the band's, ahem, dubstep single 'Unsustainable' didn't have brightly coloured pop-up boxes appearing and spouting inane facts like "Did You Know? A survey of the people of Syria found 36% said their favourite X Factor judge was Tulisa" just to get the youth interested in real issues. They generally treat the world's impending ills the same way Hollywood film makers do: a good premise for making big explosions and cool effects.

This has long been the point of the band now, beyond becoming hugely commercially successful (an ambition that's prevailed right from when they were releasing their first singles on two CDs, each one containing slight variations in the tracklisting, causing diehards to buy both.) Muse are currently the best operating trolls in music, a band knowingly aware of how many people will baulk at the unfathomable mix of elements that make up these tracks and gleefully continue regardless. If you don't like it you're po-faced and no fun, is the message from many of their current fans, and yes, at times you can't help but smile at their sheer gall. 'Supremacy' is enjoyably silly with its big strings and 60s action B-movie feel, 'Survival's' Olympic soundtrack causes a giggle in spite of Bellamy's wholly predictable lyrics about running races and refusing to lose. Yet gall alone does not a good band make, although current evidence suggests it makes a successful one. Either way, their frontman need not worry about gripes and complaints from fans of a decade ago, they'll have long since bolted. Well played Matt, keep on tugging.   

Sep 25, 2012 2:22pm

Nobody does choruses like my boys.

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Sep 25, 2012 7:40pm

"Muse are currently the best operating trolls in music"

On evidence of this miserable pesudo-intellectual bullshit review I'd say all the troll-ish-ness lies with you. Give me a sense of fun, rather than smug, haircut-proud, po-faced indie fodder any day.

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A Clockwork Lozenge
Sep 25, 2012 7:47pm

If writing a review is about making someone want to listen to a record they would otherwise ignore, then this is one hell of a review. Fortunately, though, I have an old hair shirt I can wear instead.

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Sep 25, 2012 8:41pm

Wow. Would expect this kind of shit in the NME. Its like a smug indie 'Skins generation' version of Alan Partridge wrote this.. Come on quietus, you're a lot better than needing writers like this.

ps. Muse are rubbish though..

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John Doran
Sep 25, 2012 9:14pm

In reply to Aha:

NME: famed for their hatred of MUSE.

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Dan John
Sep 25, 2012 9:32pm

As someone who is definitely the 'them' I think this is all spot-on. Seeing Origin played one last time was nice in a kind of pointless, stupid and exploitative way.

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Sep 25, 2012 9:52pm

Well, I didn't have any intention of listening to this album but the review made me laugh a lot and summarised my feelings about a band I used to love nicely. So more "smug, po-faced indie fodder" please.

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Sep 25, 2012 10:06pm

"Fuck off, you cunt. Who do you think you are?"

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Sep 25, 2012 10:19pm

In reply to John Doran:

Stop getting Muse wrong

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Sep 25, 2012 10:29pm

The conjectured attack on Matt Bellamy and the subsequent ugly emotional review of the music only reveals that the reviewer clearly has personal issues he desperately needs to address. Now, I am going to go listen to the album.

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Sep 25, 2012 11:14pm

I have avidly followed Muse from beginning to right now. A few odd slips here and there, most noteably 'Survival' on their newest album, but aside from these hiccups I've been impressed by their constant development and reinventing. I'm not sure what led me here as I do not normally care what an individual critic writes about anything I like/dislike. Nor do I generally make comments in the boxes below. Having said that, this review seems more about your personal opinion of Bellamy rather than the whole package and the band as one. Has he attacked you in a supermarket before? Refused an autograph signing? Certainly something is up. I'm not going to stick up for the guy, I don't know him, or fought with him over the last christmas turkey at Sainsbury's. I listen to the band as a whole and what end product they have delivered. Personally I think it's a great album. I agree the genres are a mish mash of decades gone by but honestly? I think that keeps the pace going throughout The 2nd Law. If my ears had toes they'd be firmly on them from start to finish. It works.

Chris' two tracks are well done and still capture the essence of being Muse, which was suprising considering it's a first. I can't wait to see how they perform this live in October. They never cease to amaze on stage.

Maybe Matt's ways and opinions are contraticting to his actions but, hey, he's in a band. That's his job. He makes money. That's sort of the point. Here you are giving a slanted, heavily bias, personal review and (hopefully not) getting paid for it... Are you a cloned, musical critic version of Aaron Sorkin? Please. Off the soap box. Try a balanced review one day. Or a different job. Perhaps politics. They could do with more hot-aired nonsense.

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Johnny Nothing
Sep 26, 2012 12:12am

Muse have always been this ridiculous and hollow. And it really doesn't matter how big the stadiums they play are. They are fun in the same way as, oh I dunno, an Arnie movie in a stranger's spare room or a Subway sandwich in a busy bus depot or getting drunk and moody and walking along the beach at three a.m. waving your arms about. And don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about cos I won't believe you.

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Sep 26, 2012 3:20am

Personally I don't like 2nd law as much as previous works, but that doesn't make me write pitiful "reviews", that look more like thinly veil temper tantrums about a band, to make myself seem like a smart intellectual indie person. Please take your cynicism and shove it right back up your ass. These people came here for review dammit, not your sad fan fiction.

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Sep 26, 2012 8:13am

Why dont you review just the album instead of insulting and being absolutely disrespectful to not only the band members but to their fans as well, if you dont like the album thats fine but critique should be constructive not hate speech, and frankly nobody cares about your personal vendettas towards the path Muse have followed. You call yourself a journalist, but you are not, that isnt journalism , its immature slating of people that have produced 5 masterful albums and have gone further that you ever will.

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Sep 26, 2012 11:42am

It's a shame The Quietus couldn't find someone who could be bothered to actually engage with the record, rather than use the review as a platform for his unfunny sitcom scenario.

I'm not totally convinced by the album, but this is pretty pathetic, Simon.

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Sep 26, 2012 12:16pm

The Olympic song sounds like the first song on the Ziltoid album by Devin Townsend. But not nearly as good obvs.

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Sep 27, 2012 2:30am

"Muse are currently the best operating trolls in music " and you are the best troll on this website Simon you know !?

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Sep 27, 2012 3:52am

Hmm. People come to website they've never heard of to read review of CD they've already bought (or, like true fans, downloaded for free). Upon reading review, fans get extremely upset and write whiney comments on said website. Why are they insecure? Musers gonna Muse.

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Sep 27, 2012 5:15am

I think one thing no one has properly addressed concerning the 2nd Law is that it came directly after Matt's kid, and listening to it in that light, as well as the fact that they're in their forties and mellowing after 12 years, but still changing their sound, is cool.

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Michael Evans
Sep 27, 2012 8:07am

Simon, I think your Mum is calling you in for your dinner.

Quite simply, one of the worst written reviews in the history of worst written reviews. I love this album and cannot wait to see it played live.

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Sep 27, 2012 8:53am

I think this review is spot on to be honest. The reference and explanation of what 'them' is couldn't be more exact. I'm assuming that the the majority of these readers or at least those that have comments on thes reviews jumped on board the Muse Train about the time that BHAR was released, their masterpieces before it being unknown to them, and not knowing what these albums meant to the original fans.
There was a time when their music was produced for emotional intellectuals (not meaning we were emotional and wanted to kill ourselves). Their music evoked emotion- which is what I want from the music I listen to. I want hairs to stand on the back of my neck, I want to sit back and think 'I think I'm gonna cry'. I don't want the music to be fun for the sake of making it on the radio and appealing to the lovers of Gaga and as said in the review Maroon 5.
I used to be proud of being a Muse fan- it was something that differentiated me and my fellow fans from the rest of the music world. They WERE different to conventional rock bands. They still are, but only because they've become more focuse on Pop music and the like.
He is writing a review, from the point of view of what sounds like a long time fan. If you want to read or listen to a positive review the. Switch Radio 1 on listen to Zane Lowe or Fearne Cotton, because they haven't got in unbiased opinion between them. They love what Muse do because they're Muse, not because of what they create. If this album was made by any other band then I know for a fact all of you prope Muse fans would despise it. It's fucking terrible in my opinion.

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Sep 27, 2012 8:59am

Lol look at all of these 'fans' 'Musing'

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Michael Evans
Sep 27, 2012 9:49am

In reply to Woody:

Woody, I first saw Muse on the OoS tour at the London Arena. Not sure if that makes me old school, but I'd like to think it's given me long enough to form my own ideas about the band. In my humble opinion, this is a fantastic Muse album certainly the best that works as a whole record since Absolution.

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Mary J. Bilge
Sep 27, 2012 1:45pm

In reply to Woody:

"There was a time when their music was produced for emotional intellectuals"

Puzzles me how, despite being the worlds premier rock'n'ROLF troupe, (Dick'n'Dom + a Chuckle Brother + X-Files boxset + double-necked guitar), Muse fans are such humourless fuckwits.

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Sep 27, 2012 3:56pm

In reply to Michael Evans:

How can an album be a considered a good body of work, one that fits each song to the next when not two songs fall into the same genre bar only 3-4?
Showbiz had a distinct direction, so did OoS, as did Absolution. The last time they got close to that was BH&R, which for me is when they began to derail a bit.
The Resistance was by no mean a constant album. Don't get me wrong, I like each individual track on their own but as an album is was a complete mess! How can you have Undisclosed Desires and Uprising on the same album as the Exogenesis trilogy?
And this is has to be the worst one to commit the same crime. To be fair the only tracks I am not keen on are Unsustainable, Panic Station and maybe Madness (it's growing on me). But again, none of them songs belong on the same album as Save Me, or Liquid State. If you want to make a pop album, or a dub step album, then great go for it. Just make sure it's a consistent dub step album which the trademark Muse melodies, piano and riffs to compliment it.
Listen to a Rihanna album, or a Britney Spears album. The track list of genre's go like this:
Heavy Metal (?)
Looks quite shit doesn't it.

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Sep 27, 2012 4:00pm

In reply to Woody:

The 2nd Law in genres:
Cheese Rock
Pop Rock
Cheese Rock
Pop Rock
Pop Rock
Pop Rock
Soft Rock
Heavy Metal
Dub Step
Classical Club/ Dance?


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Michael Evans
Sep 27, 2012 8:20pm

In reply to :

Listening the genres like that makes it even more impressive. There is no dubstep on it though, it's just Muse being Muse.

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Oct 1, 2012 10:14am

Muse are and always have been embarrassing shite. The only thing the review misses is the fact that the 'I Want To Break Free' song also sounds like George Michael on autopilot.

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Oct 3, 2012 11:26am

Muse really are the Marmite Band. IMO, it's a really silly album, which i appreciate is some people's thing.
It's like Muse realise that most music these days is a bit shite and generally like a bad joke, so they just go, 'sod it, we'll give em what they want'. This album mocks the state of the music world. And no, i don't really think that on.

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Oct 4, 2012 3:32pm

In reply to moromis:

They're all under 40. in fact early 30s

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Oct 23, 2012 1:51pm

This is amazing. Couldn't say it better myself.

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Dec 7, 2012 12:13pm

Nobody does choruses like my boys. scottsdale cleaning service

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Dec 8, 2012 2:08pm

"Muse are currently the best operating trolls in music" Wisdom Teeth Removal Guide

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Cash Advance For Business
Jan 19, 2013 9:02pm

The concept of the colors are good. I really love to seeing the logo.
Cash Advance For Business

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