Sound — 9
After "Black Holes and Revelations", I, like most Muse fans, was very unsure about how the Teignmouth trio were going to reach such stratospheric heights again. After reports of the band self-producing in northern Italy with a full orchestra, it was all a bit worrying. Had Muse, the same Muse to sell out Wembley Stadium twice, finally bitten off more than they can chew? Thankfully, the answer is no. In fact, never has the band sounded tighter. As always, "The Resistance" follows Muse's tradition that bigger is always better, with titanic guitar solos and layered melodies throughout their latest epic. A concept album of sorts, "The Resistance" deals with love and leaving earth. It would be best to review the album track by track: 01. Uprising: with it's Doctor who synth and Blondie-style riffs, the album opens with Dominic Howard's anthemic drums and Christopher Wolstenholme's bass hook, while Matthew Bellamy shouts "They will not force us, they will stop degrading us". An intimidating start to the album. 02. Resistance: as the eery instrumentals of the first 2 minutes fade away, Muse comes with a slightly Queen-esque slab of stadium rock, with chants of "He could be wrong, could be wrong, but he should've been right". The song gallops towards a dramatic climax before breaking down towards the end. 03. Undisclosed Desires: probably the song which will turn most fans away from the album, this love song sounds more like Timbaland than Muse. It may be too much of a departure for some. The emphasis of the song would be Matthew's lyrics, such as "I want to reconcile the violence in your heart", coupled with Christopher Wolstenholme's excellent slap bass. 04. United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage): yes, this is a mix of 1984 and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Truly stellar piano work by Bellamy on this track, proving that he can truly be both Brian May and Freddie Mercury at the same time. With it's haunting arabian breakdown, "United States" certainly packs a punch before fading into a loose recital of Chopin's "Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 9, No. 2". Truly one of the album's highlights. 05. Guiding Light: more anthemic drums and bass on this one, as Bellamy croons that there's "No guiding light left inside" before bursting into an epic guitar solo. Monumental guitar riffs follow, leaving no room for a breather. 06. Unnatural Selection: after beginning with an etherreal church organ, Muse blasts into this full-throttle track which seems to leave even Matthew Bellamy gasping for air. However, the true high point of this song is the tempo change about midway through, which features an oddly Jack White-esque solo. The song picks up after Bellamy and Wolsenholme pull it all together for a Rage Against The Machine type finale. 07. MK Ultra: described by the band as a symphony of sorts, MK Ultra showcases more of Muse's classical influences. With it's frantic pace and string section, the track also features plenty of sing-along hooks like "They're breaking through" and plenty of psychedelia before finishing with a riff reminiscient of "Stockholm Syndrome". 08. I Belong To You (+Mon Coeur S'Ouvre Ta Voix): one of the more piano heavy tracks on the album. It sounds a bit too Tom Chaplin at times, with lyrics like "I've traveled the whole world to say I belong to you". Just like "United States", the track features an interlude, this time showcasing Matthew Bellamy's french vocals, before the drums and piano return for the conclusion and it's clarinet solo. 09, 10, 11. Exogenisis: Symphony Definately the moment everyone was waiting for, and it is a masterpiece. Part 1 (Overture): a forty-piece orchestra plays arpeggiated chords while Matthew Bellamy sings in long, barely comprehensible breaths before breaking into a haunting guitar solo. If it weren't for the seering guitar and beautiful drums, you could mistake this overture for Gustav Holst's orchestral suite, The Planets. Part 2 (Cross-Pollination): this section begins with pure piano before bursting into an elaborate, drum driven second half. More proof that Muse is always out to challenge themselves musically, while the orchestra continues. Part 3 (Redemption): the third and final part of the symphony (and the album) finishes with more piano and builds into a final emotive, epic chorus with Bellamy singing (with so much emotion it's scary) "Let's start over again". A long chord holds as the Exogenesis, and the album, comes to an end.
Lyrics — 10
As usual, Matthew Bellamy has written all the lyrics (and all the arrangements) to "The Resistance". Lyrically, the album deals with love, and anyone (and let's face it, most of us have) read George Orwell's "1984" will catch on to it's themes within the songs, particularly "Resistance" and "United States of Eurasia". Never before has Bellamy put so much passion into his singing. It's simply amazing that he can sing and play with so much passion, at the same time. More glorious backing vocals from Wolsenholme on this album compliment the songs and Bellamy perfectly. Album highlights, lyrically, include "Uprising", "Resistance", "Undisclosed Desires", "United States", and "Exogenesis", particularly in the "Overture", where his barely understandable lyrics make the song just that more moving and haunting.
Overall Impression — 9
A word to the wise: anyone who didn't like the experimentation of their previous album will consider "The Resistance" a final betrayal. This album is certainly not Muse's most commercial album, but definately their most realized. Some people may find the record to be over-indulgent, a bit too much, and at times it is, but that is exactly what Muse is trying to do. "The Resistance" once again proves that Muse are comfortable with their asparations, and is, in my humble opinion, the best album of 2009.