Resisting “The Resistance”

September 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm (Music)

I don’t think I’ve ever been more conflicted about an album. Muse’s The Resistance is, in turn, a brilliant work of art and a huge piece of garbage. There are so many parts of brilliance, littered by so many uninspired moments, it’s actually puzzling. The band tried to expand their horizons and go “artsy” by using plenty of piano, opera, and sometimes even a full orchestra, but the whole approach fails, as The Resistance totally lacks the very elements that made Muse special in the past: their energy. There’s not even one rocker on the album. Yes, there are songs that contain rock parts, but they are so heavily surrounded by power-pop opera nonsense, that they go practically unnoticed.

The whole album is a parade of contradictions. Take “Unnatural Selection”, for example. The beginning riff, the verses, and the whole lead-up to the chorus is so freaking bad, that by the time the solid chorus kicks in, followed by a superb bridge, you’ve already given up on the song. Or take “MK Ultra”. The so-called “heavier” song of the album begins with such an over-the-top electronic riff (that also happens to be extremely bad), that by the time they reach the cool stuff towards the end, you’ve already thrown up a bit in your mouth. Don’t even get me started on “Mon Coeur S’Ouvre A Ta Voix”. A pretentious artsy-fartsy attempt of going even more over the top, littered with Matt’s singing in French (with a really bad accent, I might add).

On the other hand, there are some songs that actually work, especially the beautifully crafted rock opera at the end, called “Exogenesis”, a three-part epic that delivers, with a beautiful intro, an energetic and inventive middle and a superbly calm and rewarding end. “Uprising” is also pretty good, so is “Guiding Light”, and “United States of Eurasia” would also be superb, if it weren’t so damn similar to Queen.

I have no doubt or remorse in saying I would always love and prefer the earlier, rockier version of Muse. “Stockholm Syndrome” is my fave song, and I guess that says a lot. But it’s not the complete lack of hard rock that makes me be so disappointed in this album. After all, my favorite parts on “The Resistance” are the rock opera at the end, the bridge of “Unnatural Selection” and a couple of other slower songs. What I really hate about it is the fact it could’ve been a true masterpiece, if they would’ve toned down on all the electronic pop nonsense and the attempt to reach a grandoeur that they’re not yet capable of.

But they haven’t, so what we’re left with is a power-pop-opera that struggles to reach the finish line, alternating brilliance and silliness.

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