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Customer Review

on 25 June 2002
I heard this album by accident when my 13 year old daughter brought it home, and I was impressed enough to go out and buy my own copy. I have to say (with affection) that it's wasted on her, and I'm not sure there are many other teenagers around who will grasp why Muse are so important. In fact you probably have to be a 40-something like me to fully appreciate who their influences have been and what the young band has done with them.
The trouble with Muse is that they make the creation of superb art rock look so easy that most listeners will take it for granted. Unless you've been around a few years and listened to a few other bands' attempts to create this sort of music, then you may fail to appreciate the unique mix of creative talent, inspiration, sheer hard work, and encyclopaedic knowledge of rock history that must have gone into this project.
Sadly, the only influence most reviewers on this site have spotted has been Radiohead. That's fair enough up to a point. Matt Bellamy sounds a bit like Thom Yorke on some songs, and Muse owe Radiohead an even more important debt: It's only because Radiohead carved out a mass market for this kind of art-rock back in the late 90's that there is an opening for new bands like Muse now. However, it is unfair to write Muse off as copyists. On the contrary, they have in some respects surpassed Radiohead at their best, matching the sonic ambition of Radiohead's later work without sacrificing the melodic sweep and the compelling hooks that made "The Bends" so listenable. What's more, Bellamy's voice is a considerably more flexible and emotionally powerful instrument than Yorke's, and embraces far older and deeper influences going right back to the late '60's. Van der Graaf Generator is the most obvious influence, but there's also a heavy sprinkling of King Crimson, at least a nod to middle-period U2, a hint of Japan and others if you listen for them. It's all very British, but encyclopaedic for all that.
The key structural difference between Muse and that first wave of prog bands is a welcome one: Muse have learned to say in a four-minute song what some of the seventies prog-rockers needed a 20 minute mini-concerto for. They have some way to go before they outgun the older bands for sheer musical virtuosity, but even that is no bad thing. At least this never pretends to be anything but rock - a boundary that some of the old prog bands came dangerously close to crossing - and they have all the time and talent in the world to refine their art.
So what will you hear? Among a wealth of styles, you'll get delicate baroque-style keyboard arpeggios, some thundering ostinato bass lines, crunching splintery guitar, rock solid percussion, and possibly the most awesome, spine-tingling rock vocalising you've ever heard. Ultimately, it must be said, the band has so far broken little new ground. They seem to have been concentrating so far on drawing their influences together and weaving them into whole cloth for the new decade. But they are still amazingly young for this sort of mature work, and the intelligence and awesome technique they have brought to the task promises to propel them to the front rank.
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Product Details

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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