Friday, 18 September 2009

Muse - The Resistance

You know Muse right? The posh twats that dance around, pretend they're aliens, look for aliens, write some music about aliens, then look for more aliens? Thought you did.
They've probably written a few songs you like, the popular classics maybe, like "Starlight", "Supermassive Black Hole", "Plug In Baby" or even "New Born". They've undoubtedly written some songs you hate (that one off the third album? Don't worry, we all thought it was shit) and thats the reason why when people ask if you like Muse, you shrug your shoulders, shuffle your feet and sigh a feeble "Meehh".
I wont lie, if you didn't like Muse before, you won't like them now either. There is more of the same "Knights of Cydonia" riffs (Unnatural Selection) and those harmonies you either love or want to force down the throat of Freddie Mercury, right where they came from.
And there's a good place to start. "United States of Eurasia" has been called, rather lazily, the new "Bohemian Rhapsody". Just because there's one teeny-tiny chord change that was COMPLETELY lifted from any of Queens entire back catalogue, doesn't make it an altogether rip off. You really have to put those thoughts aside and look at this song from a purely Muse aspect. Its a song Bellamy has written and fits into Muse's Bell-curve nicely.
There is one issue, OK he might have composed a symphony to end the album with, but, its all pretty much what Muse have been known to do and what has become synonymous with Muse up until now. Ahh, that Freddie Mercury chord change is back again. And again. Sod it, its a poor attempt at a massive stadium anthem.
There is hope though as 'Resistance', my favourite on the album, has a brilliant pre-chorus that really sparks up and stands out, and the opening track, 'Uprising' includes what Muse really enjoy, a bass line that can only be described as 'Bombastic'. But, the album as a whole really is struggling in a quick sand of flappy string choruses and we've-heard-it-all-before melodies.
Hmm, its a hard one to make up. What is promising to hear is, 'I belong to you', which sounds as if Bellamy, and the rest of Starship Muse, have visited Club Tropicana on Star Trek Fancy Dress Night. Its bouncy rhythms and basslines provide a rare light note to the album. But don't worry classic wailing Muse fans, the middle part to this is about as intergalactically cheesy you can get. Ahaa! Club Tropicana's back in action and somebody is soloing on a bass clarinet.
Thats what you do get with Muse, they are different, incomparable to most, if not all, bands. But you do wonder if they're doing it a bit too much. Its enough to make everyone want to shout: "Stop guys, you're having too much fun, just write a pop record and be done with it".
But yes, as if you quite couldn't pick it up earlier, Matthew Bellamy has written a small symphony at the end of the album. You obviously weren't shouting loud enough.
Its all well and good for Muse to keep doing what they're doing, don't get me wrong, the music's fine and its better than listening to more 'Saturdays Aloud' or whatever they're called but, all in all, once the initial "Oh My God, its Muse" has died down, and you've regained slight consciousness, its not brilliant.
I think they need a new direction, to try something a bit newer. Have they thought about covering Jay-Z on a quartet of Ukuleles for example? No they haven't. Well, i can't prove that. They might have done and just not told anyone. Probably for the best. Watch this space Ukulele/Jay-Z/Both fans.
Obviously I'm being rather silly. But you get the message, and the message is clear. Its alright, a nice little listen, but a teeny-tiny bit bland
Come on Muse, give us something new.

Album Rating: 7/10

Top Three Songs:

1. Resistance
2. I Belong to you
3. Unnatural Selection

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Aahh Humbug

Why people insist on dumbing down the noise Arctic Monkeys make amazes me. No really, it does. Three albums in and as they produce musically their finest record, people still sigh and ask if you've got "When the Sun Goes Down" on your iPod. Not that thats a poor record, not by any standard, but the point is not enough people are willing to give new stuff a go.
There are probably two types of Arctic Monkeys fans, and 'Type 1' are probably not fans anymore. They took one look at their haircut and wondered why they still aren't writing "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor Part Two". 'Type 2', more than likely, love Humbug. Its a progressive record, taking their iconic sounds and running away with them to a desert in the US of A.
And why bloody not? If Oasis have taught us anything, its that an artist should move on, keep pushing boundries - they didn't incidentally. But those Monkeys did. By God they did. The lyrics are still there and so are the guitar lines (although greedily Turner now insists on playing most of them during live shows) but what i personally am most encouraged to hear, is the rythms. Its true, none of us could play the drum beat to Teddy Picker on our thighs. Don't deny it, you've tried. Matt Helders has really upped his game with unpredictable snares here and there and the odd cymbal just to keep you on your toes.
And thats the key thing with this album, its different, its edgy, but please, no, its not "heavy" or "dark" as all manner of reviewers are labelling it. You want "heavy" or "dark"? Go slit your wrists to the latest I-cant-even-think-of-a-heavy-or-dark-shitty-artist-because-i-dont-listen-to-shit single.
My Propellor contains raw energy which is slowly unleashed as the album begins to give away its secrets. It's almost as if you shouldn't deserve to just go and buy this album, you should have to work it out, decipher it note by note and piece together this treasure that Turner and co have buried.
Crying Lightning, although not the best song on the album, is a good ole bash which will please the fans who would have just bought the single, not even considering the concept of albums. No, i am wrong, they would have downloaded it illegally, by accident, looking for the latest Dizzee Rascal remix of "Mardy Bum". And before you ask, no, there isn't a Dizzee Rascal Remix of "Mardy Bum". As far as I'm aware. And no, I'm not going to look either.
Dangerous Animals provides another hook of a guitar line and i'd place a small bet that it could be a possible single, if i was a betting man, and a legal one at that.
Cornerstone provides the most "pop" sounding song on the record, but it is done with such well roundedness it seems as if the 'edginess' that has become associated with this album now has been put on at the end, to give it a final umphh.
And i couldn't let this moment pass without mentioning a lyric that teenagers all over the world are loving shouting: "What came first, the chicken or the dickhead?" Thus, just proving those little monkeys still have their edge and can still deliver punchy lines.
But, my favourite on the album has to be the beautiful "Dance Little Liar". Yes, those tree-dwelling mammals have delivered it again. What is evident here is that Turner is simply singing more. Gone are the days of shouting "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor!" - oh dear, remember 'Type 1' Arctic Monkeys fans i mentioned earlier? Some of them are crying now.
But don't let that bother you, let the bastards cry because this is a stomping record and one which should be listened to many many times before making comment on.

Roll on record number four, but have they thought where to produce the next one? The jungle or the sea maybe? Or, how about this for an idea, the arctic? I'm laughing at the irony now. Inside. Deep inside.

Rating: 9/10

Top 3 Songs:
1. Dance Little Liar
2. Cornerstone
3. My Propellor