Muse’s The Resistance is quite intriguing because if one were to just read a list of influences heard and directions taken by the band on the album, there’s no way it should work. However, thanks to the their talents, exceeded by their audacity, the heart of the album finds them returning return fun to rock ‘n’ roll. And although it is not stated anywhere in the liner notes or own their website, when the lyrics are read together it almost seems like there may be an epic sci-fi, love story, rock opera taking place.
The Resistance kicks off with my vote for “Single of the Year” in “Uprising.” Forget all that stuff you see on the top of the charts that the kids are buying. If the thumping, fuzzed-out Peter Hookesque bass line doesn’t get your body moving, you might well need to be resuscitated. It is slinky and sultry, matching Matt Bellamy’s vocals as he sings about achieving victory over those who “force us…degrade us…control us.”
“United States of Eurasia (+ Collateral Damage)” finds the band getting their Queen groove on during the call to end an ongoing war. The song opens and closes with a piano leading an orchestra with sharp punctuations of Brian May-esque guitars and Freddie Mercury operatic vocals. As it concludes with a piano interlude, 30 seconds taken from Frederic Chopin’s “Nocturne in E Flat Major,” children can be heard playing and then jets fly by overheard
The drums are thunderous on “Guiding Light” as the narrator sings over a wave of synthesizers about how empty he feels now that he is “lost, crushed, cold and confused” without his love. A driving guitar leads the opening of brash rocker “Unnatural Selection.” At the midway point, it turns into a slow rolling blues, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, and then returns to the relentless, rock attack.
“I Belong To You (+Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix)” starts as a bouncy pop number. After two minutes Bellamy begins singing in French, translated as “Ah! respond to my tenderness!/ Fill me with ecstasy!” As the parenthetical indicates, this is taken from an aria in Camille Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson and Delilah. The orchestra swells again and then the pop arrangement from the song’s opening returns joined by a Enrico Gabrielli’s bass clarinet.
The album closes out with “Exogeneis,” a 13-minute symphony in three parts. Bellamy’s falsetto sings out essential questions about the meaning of life in “Part 1 (Overture)." In “Part 2 (Cross-Pollination)" it’s up to someone or something to rescue the species by spreading “our codes to the stars.” “Part 3 (Redemption)” offers the promise of starting all “over again.”
The Resistance is a wild, unexpected odyssey. More than the sum of its parts, this refreshing collection of genre-blending songs will keep the listener off-kilter. It won’t be for everyone, but should be a pleasure for those who only need to know there’s an adventure ahead before determining if they want to go.