Monday, July 10, 2006

Summer of Sound

About those reviews I promised.

The Eraser
and Black Holes and Revelations are finally here, and I can definitely say this: The Eraser has prettier album art.

What else can I say about The Eraser? It's just a fucking good album. It bears most resemblance to Kid A: sparse in instrumentation, bursting with layers of sound, glitchy electronic beats, cut and paste samples, and themes of isolation and paranoia. All tracks are solid, with the exception of "Skip Divided." Sandwiched between four stellar tracks on both sides, this stream-of-conciousness rant about a former lover does not hold its own weight.

Like all Muse albums previous, Black Holes and Revelations houses its fair share of singles. "Supermassive Black Hole" is a bit silly, but an absolute stomper of a tune that brings to mind Prince, with its guitar hooks and falsetto vocals. This further proves my theory that I love Prince songs when they are not written or performed by Prince (see my retrospective of Midnite Vultures). Other possible singles include the piano-driven "Starlight" and closer "Knights of Cydonia," which harkens back to classic seventies-hair-band mega-ballads. Even better, Bellamy does it in a style that befits his band, not in a cheap, mimicky manner (see Wolfmother). Had BH&R came earlier in Muse's discography, say between Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry, I would have no hesitation labeling it a classic in its own right. The problem is, it follows right after the earth-shattering third album, Absolution. The album simply does not gel together the way Absolution does, nor is the song writing quite up to snuff with Origin. The album is marred by two truly awful songs right in the middle, easily the worst in Muse's catalog. The first is "A Soldier's Song," with its painfully obvious, unchallenging protest lyrics over an overused, familiar arpeggio line. To their credit, the opener "Take a Bow" is a proper protest song that nullifies the importance of this track. Immediately following is "Invincible," which has the worst lyrics Matt Bellamy has ever penned. What is intended to be a rousing anthem comes off as a Saturday morning cartoon, feel-good cheesefest. Despite those setbacks, BH&R demands to be heard. Bellamy continues to handle the band's over-the-top operatics with coolness and confidence. BH&R features more of the same from the kings of space rock, which is both good and bad. You can hear some hints of the band moving in new directions, but they never actually take off. New sounds brought in are still in the company of all the band's old tricks. It can be a frustrating listen for someone hoping to hear something new and exciting, just to settle with exciting. Preconceived notions aside, Muse has crafted a damn fine album, that, for the most part, can stand with their best work.


Post a Comment

<< Home