Muse – The Resistance

I fucking hate Muse.

What? Did you want a joke? Or a follow-up as to why? Honestly, I think that sentence speaks for itself; notice how I made it its own paragraph to highlight its importance. Or was that obvious? Obvious. That’s the word. I fucking hate Muse because they are obvious.

They are obvious in their songwriting, each song being a huge gesture of pompous, faux-rebellious stadium rock where Matt Belamy, last scion of the human race in the year 20xx, stuffs every inch of the song with lasers, synths, arpeggiators, and strings. His lyrics are full of vague semblances of resistance and uprising, every self-referential pronoun being a “we” or an “us” instead of a singular, lonely “I”. The enemy (“them” or “they”) is faceless, expressionless, and because of the vagueness, free of malice; some say its ambiguity is its strength, but I call it lazy songwriting.

It is obvious that they are not interested in building an album but rather a set list; these guys are live band through and through. There’s not necessarily a problem with that, a simple visit to a live set of theirs will fill you with all kinds of feelings of excitement from its epic scale and arena-sized jams. However there is a problem with translating a sound that single-minded and huge onto the contents of album. Half (or rather all) of the fun derived from bands like Muse or Queen or any band looking to simply “rock you” is seeing it live, tight, shiny pants and all. Muse’s above-average budget simply isn’t capable of delivering the goods, with even the strings and epic accompaniments falling particularly flat and cheesy.

It is obvious that Muse should be paying royalties to about 10 other bands, not the least of which is Radiohead. Sure, they’ve cribbed from the likes of Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk and even fucking Coldplay (a rehash of a rehash?!), but never has a band so shamelessly wrapped their lips around another band’s throbbing, meaty cock of terrific songwriting and musicianship and merely got the spunk of that band, which is then sprayed into the mic in the recording studio for all to hear. That is what Muse is: Thom Yorke’s rancid, cheesy, pompous, annoying, grandiose spunk.

Yet all of that, the bad songwriting, the terrible allocation of resources, the “paying homage” by way of fellatio, pales in comparison to the beast that is The Resistance, an album so dumb, so cheesy, so obvious that is actually works. Kind of. Sort of. Almost. Look, I’m not going to force-feed you the reasons why this album simply does not work. Oh wait, yes I am: every problem that their previous albums had applies doubly here. It’s got the terrible lyrics, the cheesy, grandiose melodrama, the rebellious attitude of a kid who just beat Mega Man 2 and was told to go to bed, the lackluster accompaniments, the Thom Yorke falsetto, piano, and pretty much everything else rip-off.

But you know what? None of that seems to matter in the face of The Resistance, an album so dumb, so unrestrained, so oblivious to its own cheesiness that it actually works. It’s like watching a terrible film where you just know that some big guy with the heart (and mind) of a child thought this was the greatest thing he’d ever created. This is the musical equivalent of G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra a film so dumb that it’s actually kind of genius. It’s almost as if the album was built from the ground-up to make fun of itself with lines practically pre-packaged to be shouted in concert like “We will be victorious” on “Uprising”, a song that hints at a government using “drugs” to “keep our minds controlled” and “red tape to hide the truth”. Somewhere Matt Bellamy is pumping his fist, totally ignorant to how fucking stupid this all is. Or maybe not. Maybe he’s just “fascinated” by the subject matter. Too bad I’m fucking not.

But how can you not cheer at the sheer earnestness of it? They aren’t even trying to hide their faults anymore, not that they knew they were there in the first place. You thought Dragonforce was cliché? Play a drinking game to how many times Bellamy talks about a monolithic government (or at least group of people as the “they” implies) hiding the “truth” and you’ll die of alcohol poisoning before the end of “Undisclosed Desire”. Which makes me wonder, what is the truth? I don’t mean that in the introspective, philosophical way, I mean that in the “what the fuck are you referring to” way.

This is a big, dumb, bloated album made for and by man-children who wish to be John Conner in the future. This is an album where a faceless, vague imagining can keep you down and only guitar solos and ripping off Depeche Mode will save you.

It is almost beyond me as to why I like it so much, and maybe it’s just me being so fucking sick of being the only person on Earth that hates Muse, but I actually enjoy this album. Under practical circumstances, it’s probably one of their worst (I don’t want to say it IS their worst since Black Holes & Revelations still exists no matter how much I despise it), but in terms of sheer enjoyment, it’s easily their best. They didn’t mean for this level of Troma-esque “so bad it’s good”, so that brings up the question, does artistic intent torpedo this effort? Probably, but who gives a fuck. I like this album for all the wrong reasons, so much so that I am unable to score it. It just wouldn’t be fair.

by Trevor “Last Scion of Common Sense” Johnson

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1 Comment

  1. New (Late) Review & Site Update « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Muse – The Resistance review by Trevor Johnson […]

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