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Muse The Resistance Review

By September 23, 2009Muse, Uncategorized


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muse-the-resistance

Okay, I have to make a departure from the typical substance for PaulTech.  That’s because my favorite band on the planet, Muse, just came out with their new album entitled The Resistance.  The result is an album that is fresh and surprising, while being somehow familiar.

It seems that people either love or hate Muse.  Muse is not afraid to experiment,  and I love them for that.  Some bands experiment, but don’t have the musical depth to really make it work.  Muse is not that band.  The Resistance offers a tour de force from the British trio.  This album will keep you off balance.  Every song is very different and yet seems to work within the whole.  You will hear incredible classical movements mixed with rock riffs and electronica.  It seems that Queen is reincarnated on some tracks, while offering smatterings of Pink Floyd.  A distinctive French motif comes into play, and this is after some distinctly 80’s rock echoes.  If that sounds like a lot, it is.

I’ve listened to the album over and over since purchasing it.  One thing I will say is that you have to give the album a fair shot.  It will take some time to digest the nuances that this album has to offer.  I really feel that this album is a true work of art lyrically and musically.  As such, I want to walk through the album, track by track, keeping both strands in view.  Let’s dive in.

Before we do that, however, let me step back and comment on Muse’s typical content/worldview.  Muse loves to write about science, especially space exploration.  They could definitely be lumped into the suspicious crowd.  They don’t trust government.  They also love diving into deep philosophical and theological topics.  They aren’t afraid to tell things like they are or how they see them.  Muse has always featured a call to embrace our own unique selves.  And they almost always issue a challenge to stand up and be counted.  These were most recently featured in songs like “Butterflies and Hurricanes” and “Invincible.”  The result is usually a lyrically dense work that can fly into areas like: relationships, war, alien civilations, oppression, anger, forgiveness, etc.  Enuff talk, let’s join The Resistance:

Uprising

Music

The song starts with what sounds like an engine start.  Then you get an eerie, UFO like synth overlay.  Matt’s voice is surprisingly tame on this track.  But this is offset by the occasional guitar scream.  The chorus features a smooth musical line with Matt issuing various statements of defiance.  We also see the re-entrance of the eerie UFO synth overlay.  The second verse finds an offset guitar rhythm joining the mix.  More synth pushes the overall level higher in the second chorus.  All that dies into the background with a bass line, then some football like chants, and Matt offering gentler guitar riffs. Outro finds the chants, synth, and melodic bass leading the way.

Lyrics

The paranoia is in bloom, the PR
The transmissions will resume
They’ll try to push drugs
Keep us all dumbed down and hope that
We will never see the truth around
(So come on!)

Another promise, another scene, another
Package not to keep us trapped in greed
With all the green belts wrapped around our minds
And endless red tape to keep the truth confined
(So come on!)

[Chorus]

They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Interchanging mind control
Come let the revolution take its toll if you could
Flick the switch and open your third eye, you’d see that
We should never be afraid to die

(So come on!)

Rise up and take the power back, it’s time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end
We have to unify and watch our flag ascend

[Chorus] They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Hey .. hey … hey .. hey!
(repeat)

[Chorus] They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious

Hey .. hey … hey .. hey!
(repeat)

++++++++

Muse comes out swinging lyrically.  An absolutely brilliant manifesto for a libertarian type uprising.  They really hit the head on so many aspects of a government out of control.  And you can point to many many countries, starting with my own.  I could spend a lot more time on the lyrics, but great stuff.

Resistance

Music

Again, we are confronted with an ethereal, UFO like intro.  The drum staccatos give a warfare type feel to the whole thing.  This is interrupted with a fast piano and drum sequence.  The verses flow into a very secretive and smooth kind of feel.  These are again interrupted by a very disjunct bridge.  This part really threw me the first time i listened to it.  And that flows into a brilliant, grungy chorus.  And it’s a rallying cry.  That flows into a nice sequence of guitar and piano harmonies and then we’re back into the verses again.  All this rolls into a frenetic ending with an ethereal, UFO outro.  The piece keeps you off center and guessing.  The ending provides a nice bookend.  A must listen.

Lyrics

Is your secret safe tonight?
And are we out of sight?
Or will our world come tumbling down?

Will they find our hiding place?
Is this our last embrace?
Or will the walls start caving in?

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it should’ve been right
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Let our hearts ignite
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Are we digging a hole?
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
This is outta control

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
It could never last
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Must erase it fast
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it could’ve been right
(It could be wrong, could be…)

Love is our resitance
They keep us apart and they won’t stop breaking us down
And hold me, our lips must always be sealed

If we live our life in fear
I’ll wait a thousand years
Just to see you smile again

Quell your prayers for love and peace
You’ll wake the thought police
We can hide the truth inside

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it should’ve been right
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Let our hearts ignite
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Are we digging a hole?
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
This is outta control

(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
It could never last
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
Must erase it fast
(It could be wrong, could be wrong)
But it could’ve been right
(It could be wrong, could be…)

Love is our resistance!
They keep us apart and won’t stop breaking us down
And hold me, our lips must always be sealed

The night has reached its end
We can’t pretend
We must run
We must run
It’s time to run

Take us away from here
Protect us from further harm
Resistance!

++++++++++++

Geez, an epic piece.  I applaud the central theme of love in this song about resistance.  That is a message that has depth and staying power.  Again, it’s Muse up to their typical shadow play with the power structures.  It’s reminiscent of songs like “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd, etc.  Great match of lyric and music.

Undisclosed Desires

Music

Lots has been made of this song.  It really is a Cure throwback in terms of sound.  The string plucking with the heavy bass hits and metered snare.  Matt’s voice is really great on this song.  The synthesizer rises up to meet his voice.  And then we have the chorus with a heavy bass synth, plucking strings continued, and harmonies.  The second verse finds whispers under Matt’s singing.  A subtle bridge makes way to the chorus.  More of the same fades out.

Lyrics

I know you’ve suffered
But I don’t want you to hide
It’s cold and loveless
I won’t let you be denied

Soothing
I’ll make you feel pure
Trust me
You can be sure

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognise your beauty’s not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart

You trick your lovers
That you’re wicked and divine
You may be a sinner
But your innocence is mine

Please me
Show me how it’s done
Tease me
You are the one

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognise your beauty’s not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart

Please me
Show me how it’s done
Trust me
You are the one

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognise your beauty’s not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart

++++++++++

A love song to someone who’s been hurt.  The music blends well with the sensuality of the lyrics.  But the deeper introspection into the heart make this song much more than sensual.

United States of Eurasia [+Collateral Damage]

Music

USE starts with an incredible piano piece.  That slow ebbs into Matt’s voice with strings.  This subtle starts betrays the listener.  You think you are getting a nice ballad here.  The second verse starts with drums entering the mix.  That soon escalates.  The bridge explodes into a Queen throwback.  Then we get launched into a crazy Eastern melody.  We zoom back into the verse.  Strings enter back in, but in a frenzied style.  The keyboard is also escalating.  Oops, back into the Eastern melody.  You really start asking yourself how this all fits together.  The ending slows into a crazy Queenesque Eurasia mantra.  But wait, you’re not done.  All fades except Chopin E flat, kids playing in the background, and the jets flying overhead.  Very remiscent of Pink Floyd’s Final Cut.  Which, if you haven’t heard, is a must listen.  I’ve used epic already, but it deserves another grab here.  I still don’t know how they made it work.

Lyrics

You and me are the same
We don’t know or care who’s to blame
But we know that whoever holds the reins
Nothing will change
Our cause has gone insane

And these wars, they can’t be won
And these wars, they can’t be won
And do you want them to go on
And on and on
Why split these states
When there can be only one?

And must we do as we’re told?
Must we do as we’re told?

You and me fall in line
To be punished for unproven crimes!
And we know that there is no one we can trust;
Our ancient heroes, they are turning to dust!

And these wars, they can’t be won
Does anyone know or care how they begun?
They just promise to go on
And on and on
But soon we will see
There can be only one

United States!
United States!
Of…

Eurasia!
… sia!
… sia!
… sia!

Eurasia!
… sia!
… sia!
… sia!

Eurasia!
… sia!
… sia!
… sia!

Eurasia the land mass.  Europe and Asia, but much more.  Definite allusions to Orwell’s 1984 here.  I like the hanging of the words “United States.”  I think some really good jabs at how instability in this region keep it from uniting.  Maybe an inference to the US’s role in that?  Muse definitely jumps down the rabbit hole here.  Are you willing to follow?

Guiding Light

Music

Guiding Light comes crashing off the end of United States of Eurasia.  The heavy drum with raining particles enshroud you.  Matthew Bellamy’s voice heralds an anthemic song that reminds me of U2.  The humming bridge and atmospheric chorus really stretch Muse’s stylistic boundaries.  The guitar solo is totally Brian May of Queen.  By the way, did you know that May is an astrophyicist?  But I digress.  Guiding Light fades out with a reverberant guitar.

Lyrics

Impure hearts stumble
In my hands they crumble
And fragile and stripped to the core
I can’t hurt you anymore

Loved by numbers
You’re losing life’s wonder
Touch like strangers detached
I can’t feel you anymore

There’s sunshine trapped in our hearts
It could rise again
But I’m lost, and crushed, and cold
and confused with no guiding light left inside

You were my guiding light

And comfort and warmth can’t be found
I still reach for you
But I’m lost, and crushed, and cold
and confused With no guiding light left inside

You’re my guiding light
You’re my guiding light
And there’s no guiding light left inside
There’s no guiding light in our lives

+++++++++

Ah, lost love.  I think this song really bemoans that fact.  I really like the urgency of the words and the music at the beginning.

Unnatural Selection

Music

A fantastic song, Unnatural Selection starts with a church organ and muted voice.  This quickly rips into something like New Born with a twist.  Some folks don’t like the similarity.  I don’t mind because I think they do something different with it.  Now a bullhorn type voice with lower overlays.  A simple scale bridge then leads to a very nice chorus with those football like cheers.  Straight back into the verses.  Right back to the simple scale bridge and that very nice chorus.  And really, I thought we’re done.  Nope, another twist.  Now the song takes on a slow, bluesy type feel with raw guitar.  Some harmonic guitar enters.  They linger on the raw guitar for a while.  Classic Muse.  Again, I thought they would end there.  Nope.  Here we go with the scale bridge and rip into a medieval harmony.  They rip out that chorus again before ending with a driving rock beat.

Lyrics

They’ll laugh as they watch us fall,
The lucky don’t care at all,
No chance for fate,
It’s unnatural selection,
I want the truth

I am hungry for some unrest,
I want to push this beyond a peaceful protest,
I wanna speak in a language that they’ll understand

Dedication to a new age,
Is this the end of destruction and rampage?
Another chance to erase it then repeat it again

Counterbalance this commotion,
We’re not droplets in the ocean,
Ocean

They’ll laugh as they watch us fall,
The lucky don’t care at all,
No chance for fate,
It’s unnatural selection,
I want the truth

No religion or mind virus,
Is there a hope that the facts will ever find us,
Just make sure that you are looking out for number 1

I am hungry for some unrest,
Let’s push this beyond a peaceful protest,
I wanna speak in a language that you will understand

Counterbalance this commotion,
We’re not droplets in the ocean,
Ocean

They’ll laugh as they watch us crawl,
The lucky don’t share at all,
No hope for fate, it’s a random chance selection,
I want the truth

Try to ride out the storm,
Whilst they’ll make you believe, that they are the special ones, (we have not been chosen),
Injustice is the norm,
You won’t be the first and you know you won’t be the last

Counterbalance this commotion,
We’re not droplets in the ocean,
Ocean, ocean, ocean

They’ll laugh as they watch us fall,
Unlucky, they don’t care at all,
No chance for fate,
It’s unnatural selection,
I want the truth,
I want the truth,
I want the truth,
I want the truth

++++++++++++

That ending really spells it out.  The “lucky” oppress the “unlucky” ones and that is what is unnatural.  The “we’re not droplets in the ocean” recalls the similar theme of Invincible: “Cause there’s no one like you in the universe.”  Matt thinks a peaceful protest is not a language they understand and wants to see us up the ante.  All common themes in the Muse anthology.

MK Ultra

Music

80’s type synth intros with upscaling drums.  A nice piece of drum work by Dominic.  The ever present guitar in the background reinforces Matt’s insistent lyric.  The chorus drives until it breaks into a really interesting riff.  This is melded with a breaking through motif with robotic voice overlay.  Nice vocal harmonies finish it out before it twists into a very typical Muse thrash out.  Then we repeat the pattern again.  Very nicely done.

Lyrics

The wavelength gently grows,
Coercive notions re-evolve,
A universe is trapped inside a tear,
It resonates the core,
Creates unnatural laws,
Replaces love and happiness with fear

How much deception can you take?
How many lies will you create?
How much longer until you break?
You mind’s about to fall

And they are breaking through,
They are breaking through,
Now we’re falling,
We are losing control

Invisible to all,
The mind becomes a wall.
All of history deleted with one stroke

How much deception can you take?
How many lies will you create?
How much longer until you break?
Your mind’s about to fall

And they are breaking through,
They are breaking through,
Now we’re falling,
We are losing control

++++++++++++++++++++++

You may not know that MK Ultra was actually a top secret CIA initiative that was used on Americans.  It was aimed at perfecting and testing mind control procedures utilizing various techniques, including drug usage.  These tests were done without participant knowledge or permission.  I think in that light, the surrounding lyrics became very clear.  Another call to wake up and see the misinformation and the danger of a government that wields too much power.

I Belong To You (+Mon Coeur S’ouvre A Toi)

Music

I have to admit that musically this is my least favorite song.  However, many people really like it.  It has a very 70’s French kind of feel to it.  I love the lyrics and the concept, but I just don’t care for the music.  But, again, I really like Muse’s willingness to experiment.  About half way through the song, it changes drastically (big surprise) and sounds more like a 30’s French film soundtrack.  Matt goes way over the top, singing in French.  It’s heartfelt.  Actually, the whole track has a very SuperTramp feel to it now that I think about it.  Once again, it rips back into the 70’s French sound.  Oh well.

Lyrics

When these pillars get pulled down,
It will be you who wears the crown,
And I’ll owe everything to you

How much pain has cracked your soul?
How much love could make you whole?
You’re my guiding lightning strike

I can’t find the words to say,
But they’re overdue,
I’ve travelled half the world to say,
I belong to you

Then she attacks me like a Leo,
When my heart is split like Rio,
But, I assure you my debts are real

I can’t find the words to say,
When I’m confused,
I can’t find the words to say,
You are my mu-

(Ah! Reponds a ma tendresse,
Verse-moi, verse-moi l’ivresse,
Reponds a ma tendresse,
Reponds a ma tendresse,
Ahhh verse – moi l’I’vresse,
I belong,
I belong to you alone)

-se,
I can’t find the words to say,
But they’re overdue,
I can’t find the words to say,
I belong to you

+++++++++++++

The phrasing “Mon Coeur S’ouvre A Toi” (and others in the song itself) is actually drawn from the Opera Samson and Delilah.  That phrase is taken specifically from Delilah’s Aria, which is found below:

Mon coeur s'ouvre à la voix,		My heart opens to your voice,
comme s'ouvrent les fleurs		like the flowers open
Aux baiser de l'aurore!			To the kisses of the dawn!
Mais, ô mon bienaimé,			But, o my beloved,
pour mieux sécher mes pleurs,		To dry my tears the best,
Que ta voix parle encore!		Let your voice speak again!
Dis-moi qu'à Dalila 			Tell me that to Dalila
tu reviens pour jamais,			You will return forever,
Redis à ma tendresse			Repeat to my tenderness
Les serments d'autrefois,		The oaths of other times,
ces serments que j'aimais!		the oaths that I loved!
Ah! réponds à ma tendresse!		Ah! respond to my tenderness!
Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!		Pour out to me the drunkeness!

Ainsi qu'on voit des blés		Like one sees the wheat
les épis onduler			the blades undulate
Sous la brise légère,			Under the light breeze,
Ainsi frémit mon coeur,			So trembles my hear,
prêt à se consoler,			ready to be consoled,
A ta voix qui m'est chère!		by your voice which is dear to me!
La flèche est moins rapide		The arrow is less quick
à porter le trépas,			to carry death,
Que ne l'est ton amante			Than is your love
à voler dans tes bras!			to fly into my arms!
Ah! réponds à ma tendresse!		Ah! resond to my tenderness!
Verse-moi, verse-moi l'ivresse!		Pour out to me the drunkeness!

And from that we can adduce a very heartfelt love song.  Bravisimo.

Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 [Overture]

Music

An absolutely amazing song.  This was the first song that made me stop in my tracks.  Beautiful strings introduce a very angelic sound.  Synths add depth as well as drums.  This goes on until we come to a brilliant string overlay arpeggio.  Here come drums and bass.  Haunting voicing sends this through the stratosphere.  Notice again the Eastern overtones.  This song makes my hair stand on end.  It makes you feel.  The high voice over after the strong guitar is rapturous.  I cannot play this song enough.

Lyrics

Aping my soul
You stole my overture
Trapped in god’s program
Oh I can’t escape
Who are we?
Where are we?
When are we?
Who are we?
Who are we?
Where are we?
Why Why Why?

I can’t forgive you
And i can’t forget
Who are we?
Where are we?
When are we?
Who are we in here?

++++++++++

This is probably the most obscure song on the album.  It rockets into severe questioning around existence, something Muse isn’t afraid to do.  Maybe an understanding of the limitations of life.  Trapped in an existence we can’t change ultimately?  Or maybe a question of internal significance – hence the Who are we in here?  In any case, it starts the next parts which deal with starting life on another planet.

Exogenesis : Symphony Part II (Cross Pollination)

Music

Another fantastic piece that starts with piano.  It sounds like something from Rachmaninov.  Is this Matthew’s own creation?  Anyway, all that fades to a somber style.  It’s haunting and, again, beautiful.  That is interrupted with a space anthemic segment.  It goes well with the lyrical content.  All complete with strings.  That breaks down into piano again.  Another beautiful piano piece.

Lyrics

Rise above the crowds,
And wade through toxic clouds,
Breach the outer sphere,
The edge of all our fears,
Rest with you,
We are counting on you,
It’s up to you

Spread our codes to the stars,
You must rescue us all,
Spread our codes to the stars,
You must rescue us all,
Tell us, tell us your final wish
Now we know you can never return,
Tell us, tell us your final wish
We will tell it to the world

+++++++++++

Someone is going up, hence the title.  And that really sets up the final work.

Exogenesis : Symphony Part III (Redemption)

Music

Another slow somber piano piece.  Striking.  Strings enter.  But then it hinges and starts to uptempo.  Drums start to enter (cymbal) and it feels like you are being carried on a spaceship somewhere.  You can feel the engines yearning forward and hope starts to emerge.  Amazing.

Lyrics

Let’s start over again
Why can’t we start it over again?
Just let us start it over again

And we’ll be good
This time we’ll get it…
We’ll get it right

It’s our last chance to forgive ourselves

++++++++++

The concluding piece climaxes with a new beginning – exogenesis.  The somber overtone on the front and back belie the hope that is stuck in between.  But is that the answer, really?  And that is the haunting question that sticks in the air at the end of this piece.

Concluding Thoughts and Rating

Ambitious.  This album is so ambitious on many levels.  Muse is trying something new.  Yes, there are hints of previous styles and experimentation, but this album stands on its own.  It’s ambitious because it is more mature and somewhat of a diversion from those previous albums.  But it is completely Muse.  It is also ambitious in its musicality.  Muse brings such varied styles and genres together that I still find it amazing that it even coheres as an album.  Most poignantly, the last three symphonies were a huge risk for Muse that I think completely paid off.  But this was also a lyrically ambitious album, and I think many reviews miss this.  Muse brings not only their musical depth, but their deep knowledge base as well.  What they deliver is an incisive critique on the current state of the world.  They decry, with striking conviction, the complete oppressive nature of most regimes (especially when their citizens don’t realize it!!).  They try to rally your attention.  And they slowly uncover the web of deception that most people seem oblivious to.  They drive love at the central core of this dilemma (and resistance!) and, having done so, herald the world’s most profound weapon for goodness.  This is not trite.  This is a truth that is behind all of the world’s most long lasting revolutions.  And they end the album with an honest vexation about the answer.

I really respect Muse’s honesty and willingness to expand their artistic horizons.  I was unsure about the album’s merits when I started listening, but have been pleasantly surprised over time.  This album delivers if you let it.  It is uniquely Muse and I give this, yes, epic album a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Oh, and I also bought one of the 5,000 limited deluxe editions.

****½



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