Album Info: Release Date:
October 1, 2012. Producer: Muse Label: Warner Bros.
Fact: The name 'The 2nd
Law' references the Second law of thermodynamics, which is quoted in
the track 'Unsustainable'. The Olympic and Paralympic Games turned out
brilliantly in the end, but you can’t blame people for being cynical
as they approached. Londoners were narked about the potential transport
chaos (never happened) and the threat of nuclear atrocity on our doorstep
because of warheads parked nearby (didn’t happen either).
Outside the capital, concerns
were aesthetic. First, those bloody mascots. Next, that illegible logo.
Also, that typeface. And the final insult: the official song. No Olympic
tune could ever hope to measure up to Whitney’s outrageously fit-for-purpose
‘One Moment In Time’. But that the overblown catastrophe of ‘Survival’
came from Muse – not only one of our finest bands, but one who, despite
their sci-fi scale, always marked themselves out with heroic senses
of humanity and melody – felt like a final insult after the misfire
that was 2009’s ‘The Resistance’.
Matt, Chris and Dom’s
fifth album was an unintentional retelling of the story of Icarus as
they became victims of their own ambition. And after Muse flew so close
to the sun last time, it sounded disastrous that the album housing ‘Survival’
was to be based around the second law of thermodynamics (in brief: a
way of explaining why any system based upon limited resources and endless
growth – for example, the world we live in – is careering to a catastrophic
end). Icarus, at least, learned the lesson of hubris from his mistakes.
But then he died.
The reassuring news is
that ‘Survival’ sounds marginally better on an album than in the context
of the Games. But not much. If anything, it serves as a reminder about
how 2012 got us all a bit overexcited. Chris Martin from Coldplay sure
did when he described the follow-up, ‘Madness’, as the best song Muse
have ever done. He’s wrong, despite it being an enjoyably sexual electro
slow-jam that moves Muse along as a band, while re-establishing an element
of mystique. But in keeping with the word ‘Survival’, ‘The 2nd Law’
Youtube video of 'Madness.
‘Supremacy’ opens things
with a bombast that just about stops short of making you roll your eyes
about ‘more bloody cataclysmic Muse’ because it does the cataclysmic
Muse thing in a new way. “Wait to see your true emancipation is a fantasy”,
goes Matt Bellamy. “Save our crops from drought”. There are plenty of
lines like that, as they pre-empt the end of the world. ‘Panic Station’
is outrageous, taut funk – even tauter than ‘Supermassive Black Hole’,
with the slappy bass and saxophones of some of your camper ’80s discos.
‘Follow Me’ is ‘Map Of The Problematique’ reimagined as a love song
with dubstep wobbles. The fiddly ambience of ‘Animals’ recalls U2's
‘Love Is Blindness’ by way of a Shins track.
Then the sounds of euphoric?
Angry? (It’s hard to tell) crowds usher in the second half of the record,
and the second law stuff really kicks in. It’s now that things get really
interesting. ‘Explorers’ channels Queen once again in the shape of the
melody from ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, and contains a warning about “the planet
being overrun”. Things continue in this direction with the self-explanatory
‘Big Freeze’, which comes across like an angular indie band from 2004
(although, yes, via Queen again). Chris Wolstenholme’s confessional
recovering-alcoholic segment – including the trippy ‘Save Me’ and the
misguided alt-rock of ‘Liquid State’, both of which he sings – is less
successful in the cold light of day than it probably sounded when the
idea was hatched. And in the final act, the album doesn’t need the one
true dubstep moment that comes on ‘Unsustainable’.
By this point, though,
you’ve forgiven Muse, because even though ‘The 2nd Law’ doesn’t scale
the 10/10 superhuman heights of ‘Black Holes & Revelations’, it’s their
most human record since 2003's ‘Absolution’. It’s not inspiring enough
to make us heed the warnings and change the world forever. But what
Muse have done is re-establish themselves as a respected British institution
by being fun. Exactly what the Olympic Games taught this country to
Read more at http://www.nme.com/reviews/muse/13730#or4Bi7It3e4UMSe5.99
Well, I have always said that
Black Holes & Revelations is my favourite Muse album and it's good
to see them moving on again. And I really like both of Chris' songs!
Did they progress on The 2nd Law ?
Definitely yes, after the last.