Muse – ‘The Resistance’ [Review]

A well-known fact about this English triplet is how eccentric, unusual, and unorthodox their music is. But how far out there can Muse really get? The band has mostly stuck to the alternative rock style that got their name out there in the first place and, aside from dabbling in some electronic here and there, have been unable to separate themselves from their precious guitars.

Well The Resistance is further proof that Muse is not only one of the most unique alternative bands out there today, but that they still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to keep things interesting.
Opening track "Uprising" exemplifies this by creating an atmospheric electro dance song that features excessively fuzzed out guitars and the surprising inclusion of the standard pop 'clap' and 'hey' sounds in the background. The song still remains distinctively Muse and it was a wise choice as lead single.

Soon after that, things get quite a bit more interesting. Follow up track “Resistance” begins with a beautiful piano intro and slowly builds up until the song explodes into a straight-up stadium rock song. It is harder to describe further than that, but what would have made for a pretty ignorable track is saved by Bellamy’s signature delivery here.

Now here is where most Muse fans should be getting a bit worried. However I mean that in a good way. “Undisclosed Desires” is a stunning track that shockingly enough borrows heavily from pop and R&B much more than any other genre. Bellamy once again owns the track and experiments with his own singing style.
One of the first songs from the album that was revealed was called “United States of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)”. While not as adventurous as “Undisclosed Desires”, the song is still quite different from what many would expect from Muse. Filled with bombastic drums, epic Egyptian-like music, and a chorus that sounds all too familiar to one of Queen’s most famous songs “Bohemian Rhapsody” it is definitely a hit-or-miss experimentation in rock opera. But it definitely sold me.

However no album is without fault and this is where “Guiding Light” comes in. To put things simply: it sounds like a really corny song from the 80s. Bellamy tries to save the song by doing his best Bono impersonation, but the overall sound just doesn’t work. Thankfully even though it is the worst song on the album, it’s still not completely terrible. So that’s something.

Things are quickly patched up with “Unnatural Selection”. Reminiscent of the raw rock of their Origin of Symmetry days, the track provides some reassurance to the listener after “Guiding Light”. Equally as piercing is the next song “MK Ultra”. Despite the weird name, the song is quite good thanks to the stellar use of violins throughout and the overall electronic style of the track. One thing “Unnatural Selection” and “MK Ultra” share in common are some really excellent ending guitar riffs. Honestly those sequences saved the songs for me at times. Both of these songs should be enough to satisfy the Muse fans that mainly stick with alt-rock and not much else.

Yet another pop song appears on The Resistance, but “I Belong to You/Mon Cœur S'ouvre à ta Voix” is quite different than “Undisclosed Desires”. While the latter was more geared towards the club scene, the former is more of a traditional pop song featuring an excellent piano sequence. One of the more shocking things about the song is the complete lack of guitars. No, seriously: there are no guitars in the song. As outrageous as that sounds considering it’s the same three people who made this song, it is in fact true and it was a smart move on their part. The lack of any fuzzed out riffs and epic solos is actually quite refreshing.

And so the epic finale of The Resistance begins. But how can they top the 6 minute rock masterpiece that was “Knights of Cydonia” on their last album Black Holes and Revelations? Simple: just make a 13-minute rock symphony and separate it into three parts. And that is exactly what Muse has done for what is some of the most beautiful music the band has ever made. “Exogenesis: Symphony” is divided into “Overture”, “Cross-Pollination”, and “Redemption”. “Overture” is just that and it prepares the listener for what to expect from a symphony made by three dudes from England who are international rockstars. “Cross-Pollination” is certainly the climax of the symphony and Bellamy reaches opera-like heights with his singing. The finale “Redemption” features a quiet and somber piano and the song rises gradually with Bellamy fading in from the background to the foreground and it is really just amazing what he does here. 

The Resistance is evidence that Muse has become the definition of an alternative band. Even though the group experiments with every album they release, their fifth studio album stands out as something wholly different. Just like Radiohead did with Kid A or Kanye West did with 808s and Heartbreak, the group has broken away from and established sound in the hope of discovering something bold and refreshing, and with The Resistance Muse has done just that.


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