A couple of years ago `Prog' celebrated its 40th birthday. While The Beatles was never a Prog band, their Sergeant Pepper's album was perhaps the root from which it would later flower. It showed us that rock could sally beyond 3 minute pop singles, that there was a big wide world of music and technology out there waiting to be explored and manipulated.
Muse also operates in this middle zone: while falling short of Prog with all its grand pretentions and 'virtuosity', it is a band that reaches out beyond the ordinary, invariably extending just a little bit further than an average rock or pop artist. The Resistance goes further than ever before, their most accomplished and varied album to date. Existing fans will find the band's sense of operatic drama still intact, but now enhanced almost to excess with more carefully crafted arrangements full of light and shade, hatred and love. The whole is dressed in a clean uncluttered mix that adds to the music's vitality and driving energy while enabling each instrument to breathe in its own space.
Despite a general preponderance of thunderous power-chords and pounding drums, the band has reigned back a little on bombastic anthems, heavyweight riffs and electronics, while adding a liberal sprinkling of subtler acoustic textures from piano and string ensemble - with a dash of pipe organ as a welcome bonus. We are taken on a boundary-busting journey from conservatoire to Casbah, from sweaty mosh-pit to Parisian Vaudeville, yet never far away from the 02 Arena or Wembley Stadium as singer Matthew Bellamy delivers his powerful exhortations against the mind-control of fat-cats and corrupt authorities that are tearing the planet apart. Even his love songs are bitter-sweet! It may be an emotional roller-coaster, but it is a rewarding experience.
Is it a masterpiece? Only time will tell, but all in all The Resistance is a very fine album that effortlessly marries an unerring sense of a good pop melody with some of the most inventive rock-music-plus around today. Highly recommended!
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