Finally we know what the resistance is: love.
This battle that British arena-band Muse has chosen takes place over the single topic that has depressed and lifted poets, painters, and song-writers for thousands of years. With the steep task of delivering one of the most anticipated albums of the year world-wide (except in America), the Brits have unveiled one of the most well-written, beautifully put together albums in quite some time — even if it is oddly inconsistent.
Influenced by everyone from Ravel and Tchaikovsky, to Pink Floyd and The Beatles, The Resistance should be looked at as a unique piece of today, as a cultural artifact that’s gone to places no other artist of our time would feel comfortable going. Though it has many influences, there is no musical comparison to it as a whole.
On this album, Matt Bellamy wails and shreds with an authority that leaves little competition. The rhythm section of Christopher Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard keep up with him, too; whether the tune is dark and nearly damning (“Unnatural Selection”) or funky R&B (“Undisclosed Desires”).
Titular track “Resistance” proves true to its name and the album’s general theme, hidden love. Bellamy speaks of a love torn apart, be it by political or religious reasons, either of which are unimportant. What matters, however, is that love finds a way to push through, as he sings out, “Love is our resistance/They keep us apart and they won’t stop breaking us down/Hold me, our lips must always be sealed.” Musically, the song is rather average for the band, and even for the album, though its lyrical content prevails.
While bits and pieces of orchestrated mastery are placed throughout the album, it really ignites right before the “Exogenesis” series, starting with “MK Ultra”. The ode to media brainwashing works like few other Muse tracks have in the past. Incredible arpeggi, as well as the powerful kick of Howard’s drums, leave the listener in a state of shock before the orchestrated sections run in with Bellamy’s powerful guitar riffs. In hindsight, its rather epic construction would seem distracting on any of the band’s previous efforts, but here, it fits perfectly — especially with what’s to come.
By now, most have heard of the album’s real gem: the “Exogenesis” series. In some respects, this section deserves its own separate score, but let’s keep it somewhat together, right?
Part one, “Overture”, begins with a world falling apart looking for a new path. The track starts quiet and rather minuscule, before building to an incredible sound that brings this ear-shattering visualization of death and destruction. Moving on to the second act, “Cross-Pollination” reveals a plan for the salvation of humanity, playing like a plea to the heavens for safety, though hardly reaching above a whisper. “Redemption” rounds out the three acts by bringing us to the harsh realization that a change must occur… so that the newly saved not encounter the same conclusion. Influenced by Rachmaninov, Richard Strauss, and Chopin, the three tracks take the listener on an incredibly journey, and one that brings identity to the otherwise very multi-faceted record.
While The Resistance may not be the band’s best to date, it does a fantastic job in shaping up a unique identity for the trio. On record, this is important. They’ve already garnered acclaim live, proving to be a likely candidate to carry on where U2 will eventually lead off. However, with their studio work, they are still attempting to find a face, experimenting and honing in on sounds and styles that tread further and further away from early Radiohead comparisons. For that, The Resistance breaks through… on multiple levels.