JOPLIN, Mo. —
As I wrote in August, I’m not sure why I pre-ordered Muse’s newest album, “The 2nd Law,” because iTunes streamed it for free a week before its release. That means I got an additional week to listen to the new album, and have some great conversation about it.
I’ve already talked about how much I loved the two pre-released songs on the album that got me to pre-order: “Madness” and “Survival.” Those are the two strongest songs on the album, and others aren’t far behind.
Back in August, I wrote that Muse often gets criticized as a musical Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup made of Radiohead and Queen. Muse has arguably mastered this combination, making it into its unique sound.
And in its typical fashion, musical influences are clearly heard, including an overall ’80s sound in the album’s front half:
- “Panic Station” is just a few grunts and drumstick clicks away from being an INXS song circa “Kick.” Not that that’s a bad thing. That album was epic 20 years before we were all saying “epic.” (Tip o’ the hat to Justin Watt for nailing the INXS sound.)
- “Supremacy” sounds like it could be the theme for the upcoming James Bond movie, especially if that movie was set in 1880s Texas. (Another tip o’ the hat to Jake Forste for hearing that.)
- The band promised a Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” sound in “Save Me,” and it delivers. So, if that’s your thing, enjoy it.
- The Queen part is much more prevalent in this album in “Madness,” “Survival,” “Big Freeze” and “Explorers.” The guitar solo in “Madness” channels Queen guitarist Brian May.
- Despite all the ’80s throwbacks, modern sounds are also featured. Skrillex-style dubstep makes an appearance in “Follow Me” and “Unsustainable.”