Music reviews

Muse, in the nicest possible way, have never been afraid to look stupid


The Resistance

Muse, in the nicest possible way, have never been afraid to look stupid. From their earliest days they didn’t shy away from using the big rock gestures to the point of becoming (at least in our mind) an interplanetary Styx of the future – a future, that is, of unisex jumpsuits and crystal robots rather than, say, digital technology.

The Resistance continues Black Holes & Revelations’ journey into outer-space rock opera, to the point that one expects a libretto to accompany the album. ‘Uprising’ sounds like the band’s pitch for a new Doctor Who theme: a big, syncopated glam stomp with lyrics about Them, the ones that won’t control us and keep trying to degrade us and so on. ‘Resistance’ follows with a (synthesised) piano melody and a Queen-esque chorus. The rest is a mish-mash of contemporary R&B, Violator-era Depeche Mode, Chopin nocturnes, U2-influenced vocals and one of the few rock songs in recent memory to boast a bass clarinet solo.

So far, so Muse, but then the album ends with the three movements of ‘Exogenesis: Symphony’, which is exactly what it sounds like. Had Radiohead continued down the path of ‘Paranoid Android’ and gotten themselves an orchestra, this is what they would have made – and it works better than you’d ever think.

The Resistance is as unsubtle and histrionic as every other Muse record, and while the playing is undeniably strong, it’s still infused with that vague riduculousness that has characterised everything the band have done over the past couple of albums. Still, in the event that Galactic Star Prince Zarkon sends his robo-armies to subjugate the Earth with the dreaded Omega Ray, this album could well be our only hope.
Andrew P Street
Available in stores.

Antipop Consortium

Fluorescent Black

Like Jay-Z, Antipop Consortium released their ‘farewell’ album in 2003. But only now, on the heels of the superstar’s third post-retirement full-length, is this esteemed alt-hip-hop collective staging a studio comeback. Fluorescent Black is so hyper-involved that it’s hard to begrudge the delay.

If the disc doesn’t match the glitchy splendour of Antipop Consortium’s 2002 landmark, Arrhythmia, it still attains euphoric sensory overload on tracks like ‘Get Lite’, in which wobbly synths command as much attention as syllable-crammed verses. During ‘Apparently’, ‘End Game’ and other standouts, rhymes fuse with high-tech beats, yielding a bracingly weird underground response to The Blueprint 3’s glitzy arena rap.
Hank Shteamer
Available in stores.

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