Muse - The Resistance
Warner Bros. Records
Symphonic/Art Rock
11 songs (54:18)
Release year: 2009
Muse, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Goat

Anyone going into Muse’s fifth album having become a fan off the backs of its two predecessors is, frankly, in for a shock. Suddenly having the band pumped into your brain in that putrid shit of a film Twilight was bad enough, meaning that I now and forevermore will associate Supermassive Black Hole with vampires playing baseball, but the moment you realise that Muse here are about as “Prog” as Shakira is arguably worse. Whatever you do, avoid my mistake; I went into The Resistance armed with the knowledge that it was a concept album with nice and spacey artwork, and after approximately two-thirds of a listen nearly threw my beloved Sony Walkman beneath a bus as things grew Poppy and Poppier, Matt Bellamy eventually breaking all taboos with some terrible French crooning. This is not the sort of neo-Prog album that the likes of Mike Portnoy like to have on their playlist to prove their downness with The Kids – instead, this is Muse comfortable with their MTV-friendly demeanour, making a commercial and Poppy album that, several listens later, retains just enough winks at the audience to make it interesting on a musical level.

Things kick off promisingly enough, first single Uprising being an upbeat synth-backed rocker with a clap-along beat and suitably schoolboy-rebellious lyrics warbled by Bellamy. It meanders nicely before the final repeat of the chorus, and you automatically start to settle in for a fun listen that is only enhanced by the ambient opening to Resistance, an exploration of how love can be rebellious when you’re living in a 1984esque dystopian society, backed by the Pet Shop Boys. Yes, I did say enhanced, because the song does work in typical Muse fashion, and actually isn’t that far away from their usual oeuvre. You have to wait for Undisclosed Desires before really starting to vomit, as programmed drums and modern R&B strings start to slide out a revoltingly catchy and danceable beat. Now, this is where regular readers will throw up their hands in horror and go looking for one of my Brutal Death Metal reviews to scour their minds clean – I like this song, and if you, like me, are the type of person that can stand modern popular music, you’ll probably like it too. It’s certainly less ridiculous than the Queen-meets-Therion nonsense of United States Of Eurasia, which is Muse trying very hard to be over the top and worthy of chin-stroking from the mainstream media and those who consider Bohemian Rhapsody the greatest song ever released – it’s ok around the tenth listen, especially when the lengthy orchestral bit gets going and makes up for it all, but I wouldn’t blame anyone who skipped it.

Fear not if you’re looking for the ROCK part of Muse’s element, although those that like to advance the “Muse rip everyone off” theory will be looking smug as Guiding Light is about as U2 as you can get without actually being Bono, but Natural Selection is a great reason to carry on listening, classic Muse through and through, sounding rather like Queens Of The Stone Age covering the Arctic Monkeys – and yes that is a good thing! A nice Bluesy solo is the icing on the cake, and considering it’s the band’s second-longest song to date is one of the best things on the album – you really don’t notice that nearly seven minutes have gone by. MK Ultra follows in the same style, and then the true nadir of the album arrives in the form of the piano-driven I Belong To You (+Mon Coeur S'ouvre A Ta Voix), the aforementioned moment of near-mp3-smashing rage when Bellamy goes from being a loveable bloke with a great range to Satanas himself as that horrendous French singing proves that everyone who ever smashed a Muse CD against a wall has a point.

The album finishes with an orchestra three-part epic, the Exogenesis Symphony, and whilst it won’t be being entered into any Prog best-of lists any time soon, it does prove that Muse have a skilful songwriting hand – without actually going anywhere, the song twists and turns and holds your attention fully, ending the album well without actually adhering to any Musey stereotypes. The purist in me is disgusted at the band for this, as it’s pretty apparent that classic Prog is something for them to mock rather than adhere to, and given that a lot of music released in the 70s is better than nearly everything released today, Muse are being very cynical to capitalise on their influences like this. Still, they’ve put the work in, and whilst The Resistance may be a massive step down to sophisticated music fans like thee and I, nowhere near as good as Black Holes & Revelations or Absolution, it’s still worthy of a few listens in its own right – if you can take a heavy addition of Poppy by-products in your otherwise pure dose of Neo-Prog goodness, that is. True, Muse aren’t the heaviest band around, yet there’s been enough on their albums thus far to encourage the open-minded Metalhead to take a gamble – The Resistance, ironically enough, stretches this past breaking point, but is still a good album if you don’t mind infecting yourself with the virus of commercialism.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
Uprising, Undisclosed Desires, Natural Selection, Exogenesis Symphony
Goat quoted 71 / 100
Elias quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Muse that we have reviewed:
Muse - Absolution reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Muse - Black Holes & Revelations reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
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