People are hard to please. When a band produce albums in their customary style with little change, fans complain that they’ve become stagnant and need to invent something new. However, when this ‘new’ arrives in the form of expanded sound and brand-new direction taken, it becomes too much and people whine that a band are not true to themselves or have sold out. This is probably what Muse experienced with their newest record ‘The 2nd Law’ – the album that caused dramatically polar reactions from fans and medial alike. So, what’s the whole noise about?
Muse have never been the band that is associated with limits in music. What’s more, they have never been the ones to follow a strict route on their musical way, but have been pro-experimental in everything they do. ‘The 2nd Law’ is Muse’s most innovative and unusual album to-date, a clear evidence of the band’s far from trivial approach and their constant development. On ‘The 2nd Law’ Muse have successfully mingled a lot of influences and music directions, including electronics, classical music, brass section and even dubstep, all of which add a variation to Muse’s usual sound and change it out of all recognition. Having the traditional Muse-style backbone based around intricate guitar patterns and thick bass lines, the entourage of this familiar backbone is very new. ‘The 2nd Law’ is a pure experiment, sheer creativity, the brainchild of one of the best rock bands of our times, the key that opens the gates to the new stage in Muse’s career.
‘The 2nd Law’ has got the laurels of the most personal Muse record to-date, the effort gravitating towards a rather lyrical side, rather than big manifestos. The opening ‘Supremacy’ is uplifting, huge and is marked not only by its might, but also Matt Bellamy’s vocals going from calm ones to high-pitched falsetto within a matter of seconds. The first official single off the record ‘Madness’ – the track that a couple of months back rocked the band’s fan base considerably – is a minimalistic psychedelia with reverberating electronics. Funky, pulsating roller-coaster of ‘Panic Station’ attributes to one of the most unusual tracks ever performed by Muse. Following at spot number four ‘Prelude’ leads to the Olympic hymn, explosive ‘Survival’ in a classical, solemn manner. The dedications to Matt’s son ‘Follow Me’ and the lullaby ‘Explorers’ are both tender, gentle and full of never-ending love for the child. The dark and mysterious air of ‘Animals’ makes this song tread an intricate, shaky ground. Groovy ‘Big Freeze’ is followed by a pair of songs written and performed by Muse’s bass player Chris Wolstenholme – a powerful ballad ‘Save Me’ and crafted with nods towards heavier rock ‘Liquid State’. The two closers ‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable’ and ‘The 2nd Law: Isolated System’ are both surprising as well as exciting. The first of the two is built around robotic dubstep and the second is an instrumental, piano-driven offering, while both of the tracks feature bits and pieces read from news. All the songs of ‘The 2nd Law’ are too different, too individualistic and each of them is a star, so this is the fact that might cause slight disbalance as to their sounding harmonious at one and the same record. ‘The 2nd Law’ is a many-dimensional album, so these sides presented in the variety of the tracks create a bright patchwork destined to grab your attention.
The signature Muse outer space touch and theatrical sound are still present at the record and haven’t become subtler by any means. The sound is elevated, uplifting, goes higher than the sky, reaches outer space, gets powers there and returns on Earth electrified with it’s depth, alien touch and totally unearthly feel. However, the structures and layers are not as complex as on some of the band’s earlier releases, but Muse make up for less complexity with the help of unexpected decisions and u-turns from their habitual ways. What’s more, Muse are not the band whose simplicity can be a synonym for simple-mindedness: no matter how minimalistic they sound, you still should read and listen between the lines and search for hidden messages and implications if you want to enjoy and understand them to the full.
On ‘The 2nd Law’ Muse expand their limits as much as possible and create the album, probably nobody had expected to hear from them. But hey – if you think Muse you can’t talk about expectations with such unpredictable a band. It’s a challenge for both – the band and their listeners as Muse take their fans out of comfort zone and face them with this change. Muse have come to the point to begin something totally new and draw a line under a completed period in their career. This kind of courage to voice the shift that’s occurred within the band, to try out something completely new deserves total respect as making such a drastic switch does take a lot of guts. In order to be on the same page with the record and, of course, Muse open your mind for more. In other words, take it or leave it.