OK. Two listens in Muse: The 2nd Law preliminary review.
1. Supremacy: Vintage neo-prog rock Muse. Unexpected. Awesome overdriven bass riff on top of string orchestra.
2. Madness: Already reviewed. Perhaps one of the best they've ever done. Builds off a simple electronic drum rhythm and electronic, spacey bass riff. Overdubbed vocals give it the now familiar Freddy Mercury feel. A different instrument is introduced into each new segment of the song, with the middle 8th a simple Brian-May informed guitar solo. The finale is the summation of Bellamy's talent at arrangement.
3. Panic Station: Unexpected f-bomb dropped. Com'n, Matt, we don't need that! Funkiest groove ever laid down by the trio. Grows on you.
4. Prelude: Of course a Muse album is gonna have a rich classical prelude to .....
5. Survival: This one had been out for a while as the official Olympic song (which honestly destroyed the song). Hopefully, it's placement in the album will redeem it. Lyrically, it's a mess. The song is awful unless you interpret it as a complete gas... a farce.... a throw-away song to play and laugh about after. In that light, it is a masterpiece. Don't pay attention to the mindless lyrics... it's Bono on a bad day... but it's Bellamy's original musical arrangement at its best.
6. Follow Me: A love song heavily influenced by dub-step flavored, dance music heard in your average German disco. Quality.
7. Animals: The obligatory political hit-job. But, just like with Rage Against the Machine and Green Day, interpret the song how you wish. At first I thought it was commentary on the leecher society rioting in Britain after their free ride was being threatened... turns out the chaos at the end is some kind of NYSE session. Whatever.
8. Explorers: Matt's obligatory piano-driven ballad. He seriously needs to work on lyrics. This is vintage Bono. "But when the black gold's in doubt..... Fuse helium-3, our last hope." A beautiful song, but complete addle-brained, Live-aid babble for lyrics.
9. Big Freeze: I can practically here the Edge playing this song. I could have sworn Bono sang it. Never heard a more U2-influenced song. (I mean he even uses "electrical storm") With the exception of the arpeggiated synth, practically lifted from The Unforgetable Fire. Lyrically, it's a decent return to an emotional-based topic.
10. Save Me: Chris' first song... and it shows. Just does not fit in the album. While Chris is a phenomenal musician and singer, his creativity pales in comparison to Matt. While the subject matter is poignant (his battle with alcoholism). You are waiting for the song to go somewhere, but it never does. It .... just .... hangs .... there.
11. Liquid State: Started out very promising. A return to heavy –rock. But still lacks the creativity of melody. See all above.
12. The 2nd Law – Unsustainable: I like it. It’s one of those songs I’m sure you will either love or hate. Orchestral arrangement right out of Christopher Nolan’s Batman…. And then BLAM! Dubstep! Followed with a little fusion of the two. Very modern.
13. The 2nd Law – Isolated System: An absolutely beautiful song. Continues the Entropy theme.
Overall the album was decidedly mixed. It’s no Black Holes and Revelations, but it’s a brave attempt by a band not content to simply continue to be one of the biggest bands in the world. Like U2, they pushed a little far with this one. I think Matt would be far better served writing more over-the-top bombast like zany conspiracies, space cowboys, the apocalypse, Orwell, Huxley, etc than infantile commentary on divisive and complex subjects such as energy sustainability.