Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Muse - Black Holes & Revelations (2006)

This album has been in my ears less than a week and I'm utterly perplexed at how it's completely evaded my musical radar. That said, I've been listening to all four of their albums all week as a result. I would also like to add that the Radiohead-lite tag this band has been given is duly and wholeheartedly undeserved. Coldplay is a shameless wanking pop juggernaut capable of pilfering entire musical passages from greater bands and I find it hard to believe this trio is accused of the same. The only similarities between Muse and Radiohead, in my humblest of humbles, are that 1) they create complex music 2) feature a singer who predominately uses falsetto and 3) rose above the homogenized alt-rock of the 90s and progressed musically -- hence, a genre placement of prog seems more appropriate rather than Radioheadesque. Radiohead had Pablo Honey; Muse had Showbiz -- both promising, but equally derivative, equally vacuous mirrorings of the musical period they were borne out of. That any band can categorically evade influence is fucking nonsense -- music would not continue to evolve if that were the case.

That said, Black Holes & Revelations is an astonishing album, for its peculiarly measured bombast and the risks it continually takes to achieve such intensity. Will you hear Queen? Absolutely. But that doesn't detract from the quality of the music. "Take A Bow" begins in a steady plod with eerie vocal intonations and transforms into skittish electronica. "Map Of The Problematique" is probably my favorite tune so far, with its menacing opening synth, plaintive chorus and inevitable march towards ultimate despair -- what's not to be happy about? I'm out of tea at the moment, but you can have a slice of Gouda cheese if you like. Why Gouda? Because Chedda ain't betta', boyo. "Assassin," while only clocking at 3 and a 1/3, changes riffs so many times you'd wonder if they were listening to old Metallica records -- you know, when Metallica actually cared? "Knights Of Cydonia" is a kind of parodic bloated epic that ends the album with a triumphant bang. "Starlight" is as pop as these fellows ever get on this one and it's just a beautiful song, so fuck off otherwise. This album is so refreshing I'm beside myself. I'm behind the times in noticing them, but whatever. B+


Jeff said...

A great album and a great band. I agree that "Map of the Problamatique" is the best song on the album, I love the way it builds and the riff just kicks in. It has such an epic feeling.

I can see why people would compare them to Radiohead because of the reasons you mentioned. I think that is enough to justify a comparison. If I was to describe Muse to someone who has never heard them before I would probably say they sound like a heavier version of Radiohead.

The Mad Hatter said...

Fair enough, although I would probably say that Matt Bellamy is a composite of Freddie Mercury/Brian May, but that's me.