Grantland explains Muse’s The 2nd Law

Muse has a new album out. It’s better than I expected given the dub step promo, and a couple of songs at the end of the album where Bass player Chris becomes front man show that Matt Bellamy is the reason that Muse isn’t Nickelback… The middle half is the best.

Muse can be accused of taking themselves too seriously, or parodying those who take themselves too seriously – one can’t really tell, except that they do some pretty funny stuff like this position switch when told they have to lip sync for live TV:

Anyway. Grantland essentially over thinks the new Muse album in a beautiful way with the ambitiously titled: The Meaning of Muse: How a bloated, bombastic rock band explains our fractured futures.

What other pieces of musical criticism open with a paragraph like this:

We all know that the media has been decentralized in the past three decades and the audience has been carved up among countless, niche-oriented platforms. From a consumer perspective, this is mostly a big improvement. If it were still the bad old days, you wouldn’t be checking this website for pop culture coverage, because it wouldn’t exist. Instead, you’d be stuck with the lifestyle section of your local newspaper and forcing yourself to be interested in a story about Halloween decorating tips. The future is now, and it’s much more readable.

Which leads, a little later to this:

Looking ahead, it’s generally assumed that culture will continue to break down into an infinite series of hyper-specific subsets with finely detailed points of demarcation between micro-genres. But I wonder if we’re actually headed in the opposite direction, where genres will become so jumbled in our heads that they will cease to have meaning as distinctively different properties. Maybe all forms of pop music in the future will basically sound like the same nonsensical mess operating on its own sense of bizarre yet unerring inner logic; the only differences will be the headgear and footwear of the performers.

And then the Muse=Radiohead meme gets pulled out, and pantsed…

“Muse is a British trio that has been putting out records since the late ’90s and can be credibly called one of the world’s most popular rock bands. Critics frequently compare Muse to Radiohead and Queen, because front man Matthew Bellamy sings a lot like Thom Yorke, and the band affects a mock-orchestral grandiosity that borders on camp. But for the most part these comparisons are reductive; lazy writers decided these were Muse’s most appropriate reference points in 2003 and haven’t paid close enough attention since then to update them.”

And…

“Bellamy has describedThe 2nd Law as a “Christian gangsta-rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face-melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia.” Actually, it’s a lot more convoluted than that. “Panic Station” is like an outtake from an unreleased Rush album from 1986 produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, except really odd. The torch-y balladry of “Explorers” imagines a scenario in which Celine Dion performs Jeff Buckley’s Grace in its entirety while riding a flaming seahorse through downtown Las Vegas. The very pretty “Save Me,” one of two songs sung by bassist Christopher Wolstenholme, dials it back a bit, crossbreeding Led Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song” with the opening track from Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity.

This probably sounds awful, and some of The 2nd Law is exactly that. I consider myself a Muse fan, but I’d never argue this band gets it right most of the time. I find that the idea of Muse is often more enjoyable than Muse’s music.”

This isn’t all of it. Read the article. Grantland’s Steven Hyden pretty much sums up exactly how I feel about every Muse album since Absolution.

One-third of Muse songs are unlistenable, another third are merely ridiculous, and the final third are stupidly exhilarating.

Have you listened to The 2nd Law? What did you think?

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.