MUSE – The Resistance (2009)

Muse - The Resistance I haven’t been as active with this blog as I should’ve been in the past few months. There’s many reasons for that, and I won’t bore you with them. I think a part of the reason I’ve been so silent lately, though, is that much of the more recent music that’s come out hasn’t affected me much one way or the other. Muse, however, have changed all that – now, I’m aware it’s only September, but I’m calling it: The Resistance is the Worst Album of 2009. Congratulations, boys. You did it. I didn’t think you could possibly dial up the shit factor any farther after 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations, but like all directionless schmucks, you’ve risen below your previous monument to homogenous mediocrity. Bravo.

To call The Resistance an exercise in emulation (sorry Nils) is akin to calling Jacquerie a stern display of civil disobedience: it lacks power and avoids the truth. Muse here don’t just wear their influences on their sleeves (itself not a crime; it depends entirely on the sleeves and who’s doing the wearing) – they gut them and strip them of all vitality, and then haphazardly truss them across a selection of songs that couldn’t be more emotionally vacant and musically weary than if the whole sorry mess was composed in binary code.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not the biggest fan of Black Holes and Revelations, but at least that album was striving to capture the specific feeling of a certain musical era (read: the synth-laden 1980’s). But here, Muse have no end goal in mind, no feelings they wish to evoke in their listeners. They just have a list of things they want copy, and come Hell or High Water, they’re gonna do it. The result is disastrous. They stride down a leaden path to nowhere. They assemble faulty simulacrums, disguise them as songs, and in the process, produce little else besides ennui.

Never in recent memory has an album been so thoroughly inexplicable and of so little consequence.
So, you’d like to hear what a Timbaland-produced Adore outtake would sound like? Undisclosed Desires, my friend. It’s all you never wanted – and more. Or, perhaps you’d like some flaccid balladry? The vomit-inducing I Belong To You, has got you covered. It features:

-a glossy and monstrously out of place hip-hop beat
-strikingly bad lounge piano
-hypergaudy strings
and
-a jazzy bass clarinet solo, intertwined with the aforementioned sections with all the care and thoughtful precision of a mental patient cutting themselves with a kitchen knife.

But wait, there’s more! Maybe you always wanted to hear Chris Martin duet with Freddie Mercury’s ghost, waxing Orwellian nonsense while a piano feigns melody over some stock Arabic theme? Say no more: it’s United States of Eurasia you’re looking for. Look upon it, and despair. Now, if cheesy neo-prog is more your thing, the three-movement closer Exogenesis, has got all the bases covered. It shamelessly rips off Gershwin, Chopin and Phillip Glass, while secretly pretending to be a Rush opus, assuming that Lifeson, Lee and Peart all overdosed on downers, and then wrote the song (songs? – whatever, it doesn’t matter).

I could go on like this. And on. And on. U2 noodling with Franz Ferdinand in a vacuum? Why, that’d have to be the soulless title track. A Poison power-ballad beamed into space via a Casiotone satellite? Guiding Light. But there’s no point, as it’s all indicative of something larger – you see, to me, The Resistance represents everything that’s wrong with modern music: an unyielding devotion to Things That Were. Not devotion to the spirit of these things, or the ideas behind them, but merely to the surface of them. Tones. Phrases. Beats. In other words, all the elements of music that will stand up if, and only if, there’s something intrinsic that wills them into existence. Then again, perhaps all this is suitable for the Age of the iPod, and perhaps it always has been. If that’s the case, then Muse’s logic here is actually sound, and they’ve crafted the album for the generation. I just wish the generation wasn’t this one.

So, for your benefit, a summary:

-If you’d like to hear synths doing some amazing things (and have FUN doing it), listen to Dan Deacon’s Bromst.
-If you’d like to hear a genuinely inventive and captivating slice of modern prog, check out Mew’s No More Stories….
-If you’d like to be musically complacent, you know what to do.

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