English alternative rock band Muse released their new album, The 2nd Law throughout most of the world on September 28 and in North America on October 2, 2012, receiving reviews with varying levels of criticism directed toward the ever-changing, always-evolving musical stylings of Muse.
The album starts off on a theatrical kick with “Supremacy.” The song is well-produced and makes for an excellent opening track, featuring a wonderful symphony and the familiar and charming vocals brought to you by Matt Bellamy.
Next up is “Madness,” which has become apparent to me as the one most often featured on the radio as Muse’s most recent single. It’s soothing, but builds interest, picking up as Bellamy sings out. Calm, yet catchy. The song is both reflective and melancholic, and synthesizers keep it modern and with the times, but it isn’t in any way overbearing. It is balanced.
To follow, Muse presents a track entitled “Panic Station,” which can be summed up in a single word: funky. It’s unprecedented, and in general feels out of place on the record.
Next is the album’s first single and its prelude, deemed the official song of the London Olympics, “Survival” is theatrical in every aspect, and intend to get people pumped to cheer on their teams at the summer games. Too bad this tracks misses the mark now that the games are over.
“Follow Me” starts out haunting, with Bellamy’s voice resonating in the listeners’ attentive ears. The song starts slow, with a beautiful arrangement of strings, but builds up with the addition of synthesizers. In addition, the band factors in a touch of dubstep about halfway through. Drums by Dom Howard beat in synch with your heart and make it race in excitement, acting as the pulse keeping you alive.
“Animals” is chilling. Each instrument joins in turn, including guitar riffs reminiscent of Santana, playing all over the fretboard, and can we just take a second to appreciate that finger picking? Chris Wolstenholme creates an interesting bass line, using distortion during select parts. Overall, excellent.
Next we have “Explorers.” It’s fun and nostalgic, reminiscent of your favorite childhood storybook the way it starts out with fingers fluttering across a keyboard. The song features a graceful crescendo and a subtle use of vocal harmonies in the background. In the latter portion, Bellamy belts out the lyrics with conviction before slowing down to close the song, the final phrase telling the listener to “go to sleep” the perfect resolution.
There’s another song called “Big Freeze” that’s upbeat, with another bass line I can’t help but fall in love with. And check out that guitar. There’s an incredible riff around 3:40 with a little crunch to it.
Speaking of Wolstenholme, The 2nd Law contains two songs composed and sung by the bassist, reportedly about his battle with alcoholism. “Save Me” is stunning. It starts out slow, and I swear I hear the chorus effect in there somewhere. A few simple strums transgresses into a series of notes played finger style. All of a sudden there’s a burst, an eruption of sound; it’s theatrical. “Liquid State” is heavier, teeming with that distortion and crunch we all know and love. Certain parts of it remind me of The Resistance, but overall, it’s new. With his unique and personal lyrical style, Wolstenholme is able to add his own flavor to The 2nd Law.
Following Wolstenholme’s two tracks, we have one called “Unsustainable” composed primarily of, well, dubstep. If that’s your thing, go for it. If not, skip it.
The closing track is entitled “Isolated System.” It starts out sounding like the opening theme for a game relating to a psychiatric hospital of some sort. Enter the various radio broadcasts. The bass and drums begin to work together, empowering each other, leading to the ultimate lift before the song and album fades out, leaving you with one last broadcast: “In an isolated system, entropy can only increase.”
Overall, The 2nd Law was good, hitting only a few minor speed bumps. Muse is evolving, their sound ever-changing as it should be, because that’s what music is, isn’t it? Always changing.
Written by Paula Mirando