English rockers Muse released their sixth studio album, “The 2nd Law,” today. Lead singer and guitarist Matthew Bellamy jokingly stated the group’s new album would be a “Christian gangsta-rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face-melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia.”
“The 2nd Law” certainly showcases a notable difference from the band’s previous music. Although not to the extent of that quote, Muse does diverge into a new realm that is much more electronic. The mention of dubstep was no joke though; after being inspired by a Skrillex concert, the band has even gone so far as to create a dubstep track using guitars.
Unfortunately, “The 2nd Law” fails to create anything exceptionally interesting or sonically groundbreaking. Muse sounds like a group wanting to take its music in a new direction, but has no clue what direction that is.
The first song off the album is “Supremacy.” The song sounds like a more traditional Muse song, showcasing the drumming of Dominic Howard and Bellamy’s guitar. The song has a riff that is eerily similar to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.
“Madness” is the second track off the album and the first single. The song starts with a distorted electric bass line by Christopher Wolstenholme, and the repetitive nature of the song gives it a sort of dance-club feeling.
“Survival,” which was chosen as the official song of the 2012 London Olympic Games, is featured on the album as well. The song received mixed reviews when it was chosen for the games, with some calling it lyrically lackluster and against the spirit of the games.
“The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” is the dubstep song that was released on the Internet prior to the album’s release. The song had veteran fans of the band questioning the new direction that Muse was taking with the album.
The song begins with fast strings and a chorus of people chanting before a women’s voice reads out parts of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Muse wanted to relate the physics law to the struggle of humanity living with an economy based on endless growth.
The bold political statement unfortunately falls very short of creating anything worthwhile. Listening to the mindless droning of a robotic voice repeating “unsustainable” on top of screeching guitars replicating dubstep drops sounds plain disjointed. The song comes off as pretentious and unnecessary.
“The 2nd Law: Isolated System” is the second half of the song continuing along the same theme. This track opens with piano, creating an extremely awkward transition from the electronic womping of the previous song, only adding to the disjunction of the album. This track standing alone is actually good, as it slowly crescendos into an orchestral mix of drums and haunting background vocals.
The members of Muse have created some generally good tracks on the record, but a lot of them try to cram so much into one song that it feels overcrowded and teeming with unnecessary elements. The quick jumps between different styles and experimentation with alternate genres only worsens the problem of the songs containing too many elements.
The problem for Muse on “The 2nd Law” is the band’s attempt to traverse so many genres on a single album results in an album lacking any cohesion and sounds like nothing more than a collection of songs.