April 22, 2004

Test Spin: Muse

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Nevermind that Muse frontman Matt Bellamy sounds uncannily like Thom Yorke. Nevermind that and mind, instead, that Muse’s third release Absolution experiments with sound in an energetic, unabashed way. Half-jokingly melodramatic and half-intensely serious and unironic, this British band seems to have mastered the nearly impossible combination that is electronic rock and opera; on the new album you get punching guitars underneath crooning vocals; you get raw, impellent rock rhythms laid under chilling organ solos. What you have in Absolution is a record that hangs in the air — moving and unmoving all at once — like a shadowy, howling, abstract painting that hangs on the white gallery wall.

Take the first track, “Apocalypse Please,” for example. The song opens with a series of loud, steady minor chord-bangs on the piano joined quickly by the bass drum. Just then Bellamy invokes the listener to do exactly what the instrumentals have already done: “declare this an emergency / Come on and swear the sense of urgency.” Urgent it is, sophisticatedly urgent; so urgent, in fact, that the album sounds like a well-crafted, well-considered requiem. The worst that can be said about Absolution is that it sounds an awful lot like OK Computer, but, really, that’s no crime.

Archived article by Lynne Feeley
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer