Sweet Revelations

Muse - Black Holes and Revelations (WEA/Helium 3)
July 3rd, 2006
5.5/6.0

Ever since they made their first frenzied impressions upon our music scene, Muse have never been content with doing things by halves. If you challenge them to prove themselves worthy of the title “the new Radiohead”, not only will they do just that, but they’ll also show themselves to be far above such lazy, late-1990s music hackery, with their second album, before setting their sights even higher as they grow in confidence and experience.

Black Holes and Revelations is the sound of a band who no longer feel constrained by genre or expectation, and who certainly aren’t ashamed of doing exactly what they want, no matter how overblown or unpredictable. And they get away with it. Whilst first single Supermassive Black Hole still owes more to Cameo (Word Up, anyone?) than any of Muse’s contemporaries or previous influences, it’s a grower because of its sheer impudence. How dare they release a pop song, with a catchy chorus and no self-indulgent yet brilliant piano or guitar solos? Who bloody cares? It’s still no less than monumental in scale.

Most of this album is tantamount to sheer escapism. Take A Bow conjures up visions of the distant future in its sparse synth introduction alone, whereas the magnificent Knights of Cydonia sounds like an old-fashioned shoot-em-up action film squashed into just six minutes. There’s a couple of attempts to bring the listener back to earth, such as the slightly schmaltzy No Justice In The World. However, Muse are at their best when they turn the amps up to eleven.

If you’re still not convinced, then try listening to Invincible. To be frank, and uncharacteristically succinct, it’s just that. Building up from a introspective snare drum introduction to a tumultuous climax, it passes through almost every emotion conceivable on the way, complete with one of Matt Bellamy’s trademark guitar solos. Before you know it, you’ll be swept along with one of the country’s most ambitious, epic bands, as they set the co-ordinates for their next voyage of discovery.

words: Kate Goodacre

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