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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolution: Over the Top but Brilliant, 1 Mar 2004
This review is from: Absolution (Audio CD)
Absolution is a really terrific record by a top flight band. The fact that Muse have generally lost out at the Brits and other award ceremonies to retro-rockers the Darkness is just another sad instance of the British love of mediocrity.
Muse are basically a guitar three piece. Chris Wolstenholme (bass) and Dominic Howard (drums) are an excellent rhythm section: they make sure that Muse's music always rocks hard (compare with pretty-but-drippy Coldplay, for example, and you will see what I mean). But what sets the band apart is the extraordinary Matt Bellamy.
The little s.o.b. can play the keyboards and the guitar and sing up a storm too. Musicians everywhere gnash their teeth in jealousy at this sort of raw talent. On a couple of tracks in this album he wails an E over top C - out of the range even of the most demanding tenor arias. OK, it is hardly bel canto, but in the overblown but glorious Muse mix, it works. Chuck in some virtuoso guitar work and great deal of mucking about with arpeggiators and you have a instantly identifiable and distinct sound.
Matt is evidently in love with romantic composers from the turn of the century, great music if not always in perfect taste. I like to think that Rachmaninov would approve of the results. Muse are often described as "prog rock". But I hated the prog rock of the 1970s and I love this. Emerson, Lake and Palmer, for example, aped the music of composers like Mussgorsky. But the result was flaccid pretension spread out over interminable double albums. In contrast, Muse write tight, intelligent songs with good chord progressions. But you can bang your head to the result with as much enthusiasm as to anything by AC/DC.
If I had to moan about something, it would be the lyrics, although even these have improved since the last Muse album "Origins of Symmetry". The lyrics to Stockholm Syndrome (the brilliant mushroom-fuelled video of which is easy to find on the Internet) almost make sense and even scan. If Muse ever learn to write words as well as they write music they will truly become a band for the ages.
Muse make rock music for the intelligent. This is a rare thing, so more power to them. I hope the dynamic Mr Bellamy and his mates achieve their evident ambition to conquer the musical universe. On the basis of this album, they deserve all the success they are now getting.
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