Sound — 7
Showbiz is the debut album of the three alternative rockers named Muse, who are now one of the most powerful and, in my opinion, best progressive musicians out there. Showbiz is full of dynamics, screaming, moaning, far-fetched influences, passion, artistic messages and noise. While it's not very poppy, it still generated a cloud of die-hard Muse-fans which probably lasted until this very day. Let's get started, shall we? While Muse had already built up a reputation in the "underground" with their dynamical, falsetto and heavy style, their first album was not the least bit disappointing. Most of the tracks are unique and contain some old, some completely new musical ideas and influences. Matthew Bellamy's creepy falsetto-moanings haunt through the CD in a terrifying but awe-inspiring way. The arrangements are simply beautiful, there are a lot of tiny little riffs which keep the songs from boring. Add some amazing cover art, 12 great tracks in the genre of prog-rock and voila, there's Showbiz.
Lyrics — 9
01. Sunburn: the piano intro with Bellamy's ghastly vocals and burst-out in the chorus, chanting the line "She burns like the sun/And I can't look away", including his excellent arpeggio's turn this into a proper song, and a great opener. It's slightly too boring to call it one of the peaks though. 3/5 02. Muscle Museum: the vague bass and disturbingly implacable riff kick off this alternative masterpiece. Muse are both thought-through and blind power here, the name of the song being the words before and after the word "Muse" in a dictionary. The pre-chorus with the short guitar solos and the amazing chorus - again with the same melody but that's not a problem at all - are simply brilliant. In the second verse Bellamy's short guitar riffs are also those kind of small details that make these songs worth your while. Needless to say, the song ends in an immense musical eruption of Arpeggio's, raw sneering guitars and kicking bass. Probably the best song off the album. 5/5 03. Filip: though the intro might seem slightly unoriginal, the softer verses with great lines such as "its scent has been blowing in my direction" and the heavy chorus make this a solid song. 3.5/5 04. Falling Down: Muse's beautiful soft-ballad. This one is simply breathtaking. Again, Bellamy's amazing arpeggio's turn this into an epic build-up and here, before the middle of the album, there is some calmness in it which was just about necessary after 3 extremely loud and dynamical tracks. Yet it builds up into one climax, with Bellamy's screaming voice giving you goosebumps all over your body. Excellent choice of placement and a tremendous song. 4.5/5 05. Cave: the anxious-intro and the cynical lines of "Leave me alone it's nothing serious/I'll do it myself it's got nothing to do with you" set the mood for this song. My guess would be that it's about self-isolation. Another really great song. 3.5/5 6. Showbiz: the title track and another one of the pinnacles of this amazing album. This piece is alternatively structured and builds up the tension for about 3 minutes before there is an enormous breakdown. "Controlling my feelings for too long" and "Pushing us into self-destruction" are those kind of lyrics that will make you feel horrified but will keep you listening. And that happens with Showbiz. Ergo, another highlight. 4.5/5 07. Unintended: the 2nd delicate ballad on the record, slightly more soft than Falling Down. Needless to say, it includes dazzling melodies and graceful chord sequences. Muse again show that they are capable of more than just rocking out hard. "You could be my unintended choice/To live my life extended/You could be the one I'll always love". Utterly astounding. 4.5/5 08. Uno: this is another excellent song. The intro of sneering electric guitars but then the sudden verses with are more soft and beautiful and yet again the explosion of the choruses. Maybe a but too much of a standard Muse song, it's great nonetheless. 3.5/5 09. Sober: with the pop-rockish intro and the choruses this appears to be quite similar to the other songs. But the marvellous bridge make this song still an well-formed track. 3/5 10. Escape: the queen-esque vocal harmonies and yet the loud and hard interludes are a combination of Muse's talent to make loud, catchy riffs and beautiful melodies. Well done, Matthew. 4.5/5 11. Overdue: the intro & verse riffs are actually relly good. And the rhythm of the pre-chorus is also excellent. The chorus is slightly too boring after listening to 10 songs alike it, but it still is a proper track. 3/5 12. Hate This & I'll Love You: the end of the album which is 5 minutes in length is again pretty good. Not a standout track though. 3/5 The standout tracks must be Muscle Museum, Showbiz, Falling Down, Unintended and Escape. The lyrics are superb and fit the genre perfectly, and no-one can argue the vocal capabilities of Matthew Bellamy.
Overall Impression — 8
Muse's Showbiz is a combination of a lot of different styles. The negative of this otherwise ideal CD are that the songs are slightly too similar and boring. Yet it shows us that Muse are capable of a lot and definitely for a dbut, it's a brilliant effort. Seeing how Muse have developed after Showbiz it's a must-have to any Muse-fan or prog-rocker and it shows a clear image of their development through the past decade. If it were stolen, I'd definetely buy it again, even if only to have my Muse-discography remain complete. Though the coming albums - Origin of Symmetry, Absolution and Black Holes & Revelations - are of a much more refined quality, Showbiz shouldn't be overlooked and is an exquisite debut to the Teighnmouth Trio.