“The 2nd Law” – Muse

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Anyone who has been following Muse through the history of their previous five studio albums will know that the band is always trying to experiment and expand their sound (currently they still have plans to play in outer space). With the release of their sixth studio album, The 2nd Law, Muse dabbles in funk, electronic, and yes, even dubstep. Despite these new attempts from the band, they still have those special elements in all of their songs that let the listener know undoubtedly that they’re listening to Muse.

The album fires right out of the gate with “Supremacy.” The guitar riff is crunchy and monstrous, and the whole song has a very 007-esque vibe to it. And of course, Matt Bellamy’s falsetto range is atmospheric, which is a very signature feature of the band. “Madness” is the first official single off the album, and it does well mixing very simplistic R&B beats with Muse’s electronic touch. Although it is very similar to Queen’s big hit, “I Want To Break Free,” it’s unusual hearing Bellamy sing about love for a change and not some incredibly over-the-top conspiracy theory. “Panic Station” is definitely one of my personal favorites, and for good reason; Muse’s first dive into funk is a huge success. The bassline grooves, the horns are tasty, and Bellamy’s falsetto-chorus fits the 70s funk vibe perfectly. As the first technical single, “Survival” was used as one of the official tracks for the London 2012 Olympics, which makes sense if you take a look at the lyrics. The song’s orchestral intro is very typical of Muse, and it was the first time Bellamy had to write out parts for a choir. Overall, it’s a very heavy and catchy tune, although the lyrics are a bit simplistic. The next track, “Follow Me,” was written for Bellamy’s newborn son, Bingham, and his heartbeat was recorded and can be heard in the beginning seconds of the track. The song is definitely Muse’s heaviest electronic synth-laden tune off the album, and while it’s not my favorite, it will definitely be popular among some Muse fans. “Animals,” a very hypnotic indie jam, talks about the greed of bankers and stock market savagery, and Bellamy’s opinion of the whole mess (“Kill yourself, come on and do us all a favor”). The song ends with screams and chaos in the midst of the stock market. This is definitely one of the more political songs off the album. “Explorers” is perhaps one of the more forgetful tracks off The 2nd Law, but it’s not a bad radio-friendly pop tune. Bellamy sings about how the earth is slowly becoming uninhabitable and his desire to want to explore the far reaches of outer space for a new home for humanity. “Big Freeze” is another one of my favorites. It was a great idea for them to keep this song towards the end of the album to keep it balanced. The guitar tones resemble those used by The Edge of U2, and Bellamy’s vocals start sounding like Bono. You can also tell that Matt’s vocal range is really starting to get up there. “Save Me” and “Liquid State” are the two songs written by bassist Chris Wolstenholme, and they’re the first two songs in Muse’s repertoire in which Chris takes lead vocals. The first of the two isn’t bad for his first song, and the second sounds a lot like “Unnatural Selection” off of The Resistance. “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” is the track that’s definitely attracted the most attention from fans, since it’s their infamous dubstep song. “The 2nd Law: Isolated System” is a bit Radiohead-sounding, and is an interesting (though not entirely successful) way for Muse to end their album. Both 2nd Law tracks illustrate that classic Muse theme of the end of civilization as we know it. As Bellamy described it, “It’s the noise of humanity on a tiny planet in the middle of nothing.”

Though the end of the album may be a tad unusual and disappointing, you have to look back on some of the amazing feats Muse have pulled with The 2nd Law. When you’ve got funk, dubstep, electronic, R&B, orchestral pieces, and pop rock all on one album, it goes without saying that Muse is one of the most elaborate, over-the-top, and successful rock bands of our time. If you’ve been following Muse early on, you’ll love The 2nd Law.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Supremacy, Madness, Panic Station, Big Freeze

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