Thursday, September 24, 2009

COME ON FEEL THE NOISE!

I don't always love Muse. The British trio's music can be a bit too pompous and operatic for my taste. But when they really pull me in, they blow me away. To date, they've done it exactly once, with "Super Massive Black Hole," the first single from their 2006 album, Black Holes And Revelations. Though it's no "Super Massive Black Hole," their new single, "Uprising," is working on me; it's all neo-glam swagger topped by Matthew Bellamy's sexy, stratospheric vocals.

I won't even pretend to understand how the band scored that plum gig performing on the MTV Video Music Awards last week. But apparently, it did the trick, landing them two career bests this week in Billboard. Their fifth studio album, The Resistance, debuts on the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 3, with opening-week sales of 128,000, and the single is No. 37 on the Hot 100. Considering that Black Holes and Revelations sold 48,000 copies in its first week, I'd say the MTV exposure plus the group's inclusion on the soundtrack of the first Twilight movie (they also will be featured on New Moon) had a lot to do with their newfound bankability in the U.S.

With Bono's messiah complex all but eclipsing U2's musicianship, Coldplay playing it too cool (rock out, boys!), Radiohead playing it too erratic, and Keane not exactly fulfilling their early commercial promise, the U.S. could use a fresh major rock & roll import from the UK. And with The Resistance, Muse is slowly beginning to win me over, too. But for such a straightforward album title, the names of the songs take pretentious to extremes not seen or heard since the heyday of Yes in the 1970s. The music itself puts me in a Queen/T. Rex/Styx/Ultravox/Puccini/Wagner state of mind. Yes, en serio. Frankly, I prefer them in slightly more mainstream mode and could live without the three-part symphony that closes the album. I'll take the classical flourishes in smaller doses, like the piano solo courtesy of one Frédéric Chopin on "Collateral Damage" and the graceful notes of one Camille Saint-Saëns that enhance another track. I bet Chris Martin is kicking himself for not thinking of it first.

The track listing for The Resistance:
  1. "Uprising"
  2. "Resistance"
  3. "Undisclosed Desires"
  4. "United States Of Eurasia/Collateral Damage"
  5. "Guiding Light"
  6. "Unnatural Selection"
  7. "MK Ultra"
  8. "I Belong to You/Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix"
  9. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)"
  10. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 (Cross-Pollination)"
  11. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)"
Muse "Uprising"
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