Muse – The Resistance (or 1984: The Sci-Fi Rock Opera)

Not out ’til Monday, but if you’re a member, you can listen to the whole thing at muse.mu (and see the lyrics), otherwise you can hear it all at The Guardian.

Here’s what I think:

Uprising – You’ve probably already heard this. It provides a good thumping start to the album and was quite a good sing-along at Teignmouth, but it’s currently my least favourite song on the album, I like the vocals in the verse, but the chorus is kinda boring, and I don’t like the high pitched Doctor Who sound. Plus it goes on a bit, it would annoy me less if it stopped at around 3 minutes rather than 5.

Resistance – This reminds me of Starlight, but it’s better (imho). The lyrics are clearly influenced by Orwell’s 1984 (“You’ll wake the Thought Police”), and is Matt going a bit soft? (“Love is our resistance”)

Undisclosed Desires – If you don’t like bands to change, and just wanted Muse to make Origin of Symmetry again, this probably isn’t for you. If the vocals in the chorus were a bit more upbeat, I could imagine it being played in a club. It’s a step further in the progression from classic Muse beyond Supermassive Black Hole and Map of the Problematique. I like it.

United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage) – Muse pay homage to Chopin and Queen in the same song using the Arabic scale (that’s what Zane Lowe calls it anyway, I’m not sure about the technical accuracy, but it gives you an idea). The lyrics came from Matt reading Zbigniew Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard, in which a former U.S. Presidential Advisor tells how the U.S. deliberately acts to stop Eurasia uniting because of a fear that, should it happen, a war with the U.S. would be inevitable.

Guiding Light – Apparently if you isolate the drums you can hear a neighbour knocking on the door to ask them to turn the volume down. This is a fist clenching power ballad. Imagine Matt singing for Journey or Boston with a Brian May guitar solo. I’m a fan.

Unnatural Selection – This seems to be a favourite with other reviewers, it doesn’t appeal to me so much. I like the organ intro and the various riffs throughout the song (although the main riff could be a bit too similar to New Born). What I don’t like is the vocals, Matt’s voice in the verses annoys me, as does something about the “Counter balance this commotion…” bit which I can’t quite pinpoint. The rest of the vocals are alright, but pretty standard for Muse. I don’t get the middle section either. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

MK Ultra – This is reminiscent of Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, but again it’s better (again imho). Like the previous song there’s some Metallica-esque riffage going on. Not sure what else to say about it.

I Belong to You (+ Mon Cœur S’Ouvre à Ta Voix) – Again, if you’re not open to different styles, you probably won’t like this. It features some French lyrics and a clarinet solo, and, as far as I know, the first use of the word ‘muse’ in a Muse song. I like a bit of Jazz occasionally and I like this.

Exogenesis Symphony – Exogenesis is a name for the theory that life started elsewhere in the universe and spread to Earth; in this story the opposite happens as we’ve ruined this planet beyond repair and must start again somewhere else.

The strings on Part 1 (Overture) sound very familiar, but I can’t think where from, so I’ll make do with comparing to Blackout off of Absolution (which also includes an electric guitar part of a similar style), but with a bit more urgency. Matt questions ‘Who are we? Where are we? When are we? Why are we in here?’ and sings of being trapped and unforgiving in a voice that reminds me of Micro Cuts.

Part 2 (Cross-Pollination) begins with a piano part not dissimilar to the middle of Butterflies and Hurricanes and ‘You must rescue us all’ doesn’t sound all that different to ‘Best, you’ve got to be the best’. Sounding like one of the best Muse songs from previous albums wouldn’t have been all that great if it was too similar, thankfully that’s not the case.

Part 3 (Redemption) is sort of a happy ending (it’s actually about a new beginning), which actually reminds me a little bit of Coldplay’s The Escapist in a way.

In conclusion, at the moment it’s my favourite Muse album and therefore one of my favourite albums full stop (or period for any Americans who might be reading this. Ironically I’m not ending the sentence yet, so it’s actually a comma), although both of those statuses are likely to change over time, and probably come back again, and change again, and return again.

If you like Muse, I think you should like this (not that you necessarily will, I just think you should) and if you didn’t like Muse before I wouldn’t expect this to change your mind, but I have used at least two words in this review that I wouldn’t have used before in connection with Muse: ‘clarinet’ and ‘happy’, so I guess you could go either way.

I listened to most of the songs a few times while looking at other websites and they didn’t do much for me, I got much more into it when I could read the lyrics and properly concentrate on listening to it.

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14 thoughts on “Muse – The Resistance (or 1984: The Sci-Fi Rock Opera)

  1. “United States of Eurasia” also has 1984 connotations… in fact, until I read this I never connected it to the grand chessboard… but, where I felt they were going with the song was in reference to the on-going perpetual warfare in that region that the United States is committing… setting up colonies and whatnot in perpetual war.

    But really, any definition fits the song and I’m sure they would agree to some extent with all of these interpretations hehe.

  2. “And is Matt going a bit soft? (”Love is our resistance”)”

    I don’t see that is going soft, especially looking at the relationship between Winston and Julia. Julia’s affairs within those that belonged to different sections of this government were a direct defiance against the power which she wished to fight against. Winston’s love for her was also a form of rebellion or as far as he felt he could “stick it to the man” in the earlier part of the book, feeling generally hopeless to do anything else aside from small bits of freedom he did not have, but rebelled to earn. In a sense, “Our love is our resistance” with that background is more powerful than I think you give it credit for.

    1. To be honest, it wasn’t meant to be a really serious comment.
      I definitely know what you mean and totally agree.

      I was suggesting Muse haven’t really done love songs like this on previous albums.* Perhaps I should have put it with I Belong To You rather than Resistance.

      *at least, none I can think of at the moment, Unintended maybe, but for some reason I don’t think that has quite the same feel to it

  3. I love all Muse songs on this album except for Undisclosed Desires because I think it sounds too much like one of those boy band songs and I could just picture someone like the backstreet boys or NSYNC singing this song. I still love this song but it’s definitly not one of my favourites.

    1. See I don’t think it sounds anything like a “boy-band”. The first time I heard Undisclosed Desires, the first thing that came to mind was Depeche Mode.. lol which I am also a big fan of, so really I thought it was pretty good, a lot of 80’s synth and all that.

    2. I’m with Sunny on this, although I know very little of Depeche Mode. I couldn’t imagine NSync or Backstreet Boys singing it, or if they did it would sound totally different.
      But I can understand people not liking it. My opinions of all the songs have fluctuated. I think my overall favourite is Guiding Light.
      I enjoy Unnatural Selection more since I started playing along with the guitar part.
      I’m not really into Exogenesis, it’s not… bonkers enough. It’s beautiful in places but not very exciting.

  4. “if you didn’t like Muse before I wouldn’t expect this to change your mind”

    I wasn’t a fan until I heard this album, which I think is freaking amazing from beginning to end!

    1. Fair play. That’s cool.

      When you say you weren’t a fan, do you mean you hadn’t really heard Muse before, or you tried listening to their previous albums and didn’t like them?

  5. It actually doesn’t feature the word muse in this song. If you look at the lyrics in the CD cover slip, it actually says just “mu”.

    That said, great song and good to hear clarinet in modern music.

    1. If you keep looking, after “I belong to you alone” you’ll see “-se”.

      The word muse goes on that long.

      It’s more obvious on the remix for the new Twilight soundtrack:

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