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Muse: Absolution

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Matthew Bellamy and Thom Yorke have a few things in common. The first is that they both are very adept at fusing lyrics to winding and interesting melodies. The second: I usually have no idea what they’re talking about. Both men front ‘rock’ bands that draw from the same pool of sound. There are moments of claustrophobia as well as bombast.

Muse is more of a ‘rock’ band in that they’re not afraid of make ‘the big noise’. It can be argued that Radiohead can make ‘the big noise’ too. Yes, they can…but they don’t really seem to enjoy it.

After the fifth or sixth listen through Absolution, some observations:

  • Muse reminds me of Coldplay (or at least that “Politik” thing)
  • “Time Is Running Out” comes from that Yorke school of paranoid vocalisms
  • There’s an awful lot of yearning going on here (maybe like Creed-meets-Coldplay, but not nearly so icky)
  • I can’t figure out the lyrics, but there’s obviously something important going on

The big noise? There are lots of them (the piano-pounding crescendos of “Apocalypse Please” for one) but the most resonant for me comes during “Stockholm Syndrome”. Now here is where Muse let go. The snarling opening guitar riff wouldn’t be out of place on a Rush record. Later in the tune are some crushing power chords that owe a lot to Teen Spirit-era Nirvana.

There is also one particularly great ‘small noise”: the string-driven ballad “Blackout”. If Freddie Mercury had done this song, we would have called it brilliant. Seriously.

I didn’t plan on this review to take the road of “is Muse a faux-Radiohead?”, it just sorta happened. The similarities between the two groups, vocalists in particular, can’t be ignored. In the grand scheme of it all, groups like Muse will survive on their ability to stand out. Have they accomplished that on Absolution? Uh..sort of.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    Now, I would have to disagree with you. I love Muse but I don’t think they are similar to Radiohead… well maybe early Radiohead… but that is pushing it.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i dunno tek…the vocal delivery is so similar.

    i would have to agree that the music is closer to pablo honey radiohead.

  • http://www.tekwh0re.net Ms. Tek

    I’m going to post my “Tek will cut you if you steal these CDs from her” list. Now a LOT of them on that list are very Radiohead influenced.

    You might want to check out a swedish band called “Kent” if you are into that kind of thing. They have two or three albums in English.

  • http://www.particleman.org/ particleman

    dangit, and i was getting ready to write a review on Absolution. you stole my thunder! i’ll just wait a few days for this one to make its way down the list before posting mine.

    i also caught the (blatant) similarity to Radiohead and also a nod to Nirvana.

    anyway, great review, and i particularly laughed and agree with this remark:

    “I can’t figure out the lyrics, but there’s obviously something important going on”

    The exact same thought goes through my head as i listen to him as well. i have no idea what the guy is saying, but it sure sounds like the world is hinging on it.

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i found a review of it late last night where they’re sayin’ that the entire record is in response to what’s going on over in iraq.

  • http://www.particleman.org/ particleman

    care to post a link?

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    i think it was this review.

  • kiki

    First, sorry my english. It’s an old story make a comparison between muse and radiohead. Obviously muse is different from Radiohead even to Coldplay. Muse is the best band i ever heard, i’m new to muse, and all their album is fantastic. Did you know that actually, song from coldplay such as God Put A Smile Upon Your Face & Clock was inspired by Muse, Chris said that. Do you listen to showbiz and origin of symmetry? It’s great.

  • http://none john

    Muse sounds exactly like early radiohead, when radiohead played guitars and used quiet verses and hard hitting choruses. If radiohead isn’t going to rock anymore someone has to.

  • din-din

    i think MUSE is only Radiohead Jr.

  • some guy

    The prechorus in Muscle Museum from Showbiz sounds EXACTLY the same as as the prechorus on Radiohead’s The Bends (the title track).

    ….even though this is Absolution we’re talking about…

    Actually, Apocalypse Please is very similar sounding to ColdPlay’s Politik.

    And when Matt sings “Declaaare this an emergency”, holy crap you think it’s Mr Yorke himself!

    Very VERY early radiohead-esque work.

  • sam

    radiohead are still way better than muse. but i do agree that muse have a slightly different sound. im not about to bash muse, but radiohead kick their arse anyday. i think muse sorta stole radioheads style and then changed it a bit.

  • http://www.www.www.com MEEE

    I dunno, Muse were heavily influenced by Radiohead, but they didn’t steal Radiohead’s style. They probably just listened to Radiohead alot, and when that happens I guess you’d start to make music like them. Everyone copies somebody else… unless you were the first musician ever?

  • erho

    well i think its fairly obvious that muse stole radioheads style, and at first i thought it was ridiculous bc matt bellamy sounds JUST like thom yorke, esp in apocalypse please. its pretty undeniable. i love radiohead. but ive decided that its not so bad that theres more music like it, just bc i love that sound. radiohead is clearly better, and the origin of their style, but i cant begin to say that the music is mediocre

  • http://jpsgoddamnblog.blogspot.com JP

    In interviews, they stress that despite the Radiohead and Jeff Buckley vocal similarity, there’s also a good bit of grunge/alternative in there, which explains the power behind their music. This is truly a great band!

  • dana

    Im angry that muse are getting called copycats of radiohead! people who make this comments obviously havent botherd to listen to muse thoroughly enough. how can you even say radiohead is a rock band? where is the heavy bass thumping and grunge metal riffs that muse have?

    shallow boys i work with must eat their words.

  • Jason Chang

    Remember Matt Bellamy (Muse) helped write Politik.

    :)

    -jason

  • pablo

    maybe radiohead sounds like someone else.

  • Anita

    Those who are not artist or artistic can’t hear, feel or see the difference between the real thing and copycat and surely won’t know how to appreciate the authenticity of genuine talent. Those who are know Muse first of all doesn’t sound like Radiohead. Muse, their Bellamy’s vocal is a lot stronger, aggresive, raw yet full of soul, daring and pure. His performance, unrehearsed, non repetitive, and lively where Radiohead seems like confused, erratic and lack of rythem and Boring. Anyone even thinks of comparing the two must have ……. ????? And that’s why Muse have won more Live Band Permformanve than Radiohead!

  • ATB

    Guitar palying? There’s a lot of great guitar players. But there’s only one excellent player who doesn’t miss the riffs playing live and sings at the same time without missing a note while standing or sitting. That’s Matt Bellamy.

  • y

    Ugh, ENOUGH WITH THIS MUSE-SOUNDS-LIKE-RADIOHEAD CRAP!!! ONLY IDIOTS LOOKING TO PUT DOWN MUSE SAY THAT!! They sound NOTHING alike, the ONLY similarities between the singers are the falsettos, apart from that, NOTHING ELSE IN COMMON!!! People who don’t like Muse and their success always pull the “they ripped off Radiohead” card as an attempt to make them sound like less of a band! Well are Radiohead the most original band of all time? No, they’re not! I’m sure they have influences, too!

  • sork

    hi!
    actually, muse played apocalypse please (called before emergency ) before coldplay’s album was out it was played on may 2002
    So I don’t know, it’s either a coincidence or coldplay who were inspired by apocalypse please (emergency)

  • jula

    Muse >>>>>> Radiohead

  • Gorilla

    I just heard the news: Muse is actually Jeremy Clarkson. Radiohead is actually the Gorillaz. And the Gorillaz are gorillas. So is Jeremy Clarkson.

    Figure that out!