Philip Glass? No. Rick Wakeman? No. Wendy Carlos? No. Steve Reich? No!
Thirty seconds into the opening track from Muse's Black Holes & Revelations and all of these thoughts have crossed my mind. The Glass namecheck is most appropriate, as "Take A Bow" uses the repeated and shifted arpeggio as the basic structural material for its slow-building explosion. Just past the midway point the arpeggio flies into double time (very reminiscent of "The Grid" from Philip Glass' Koyaanisqatsi), ushering in the first of several guitar-laden crescendos. Exhilarating. Somehow glammy and sinister at the same time.
When Muse's Absolution hit U.S. ears, the band was (somewhat unfairly) compared to Radiohead. I was guilty of this. Still, given singer Matthew Bellamy's penchant for drawing out syllables over multiple and/or elongated notes, the Thom Yorke similarity was tough to ignore.
This new release moves Muse away from that common ground. For one thing, the lyrics are far less opaque than Radiohead's. The aforementioned "Take A Bow" is fairly obviously an impassioned jab at the failings of world leaders, perhaps one in particular. Hey, if me, Mr. LyricsComeLast, can perceive this…
Musically, Black Holes & Revelations seems comfortable taking on the more arty side of things (the King Crimson brutality of "Assassin") as well as the darkly moody "Voodoo." Squarely in the middle are the popish "Starlight," the glam-draped "Supermassive Black Hole," and the waltz-time "Soldier's Poem"—with beautiful vocal harmonies recalling Queen.
That word comfort is important here, because there's a big difference between the presentation of various musical styles and pulling off a sense of cohesion. Is this a collection or just a bunch of songs?
I was uncertain about this band when Absolution first showed up. That comfort wasn't apparent to my ears. Maybe I'd fallen willing victim to the "Sounds Like Radiohead" noise. Well, no more. Muse has taken a big step forward with Black Holes & Revelations. They stand on their own.
OK. That, and they've successfully pulled off what sounds like the first rock song written by Philip Glass.Powered by Sidelines