Tuesday, 14 September 2010

"We Will Be Victorious"

or, how my resistance to Muse's The Resistance collapsed...

I guess it was inevitable, really. I remember clearly when Black Holes and Revelations came out, I eagerly slapped on track one, 'Take a Bow'. It wasn't long (about forty seconds, I would guess) before I was cursing Muse, Matt Bellamy, the engineer who mixed the track, and the record label who put the album out. You might say that I was not a fan. Having relegated the album to my 'can't be bothered' pile, I returned to Porcupine Tree's In Absentia and promptly forgot all about their betrayal.

The thing was, I'd already felt that way before- albeit to a lesser degree- when Absolution came out. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I felt that the band were moving away from the space-rock-meets-rage-against-the-machine-with-falsetto-vocals that had made me fall in love with them in the first place. The structures were different, somehow; although 'Stockholm Syndrome' was possibly the heaviest thing (bar 'Dead Star') they'd yet recorded, it still wasn't 'Citizen Erased'. Not only that, but 'Endlessly' had to be the shittest thing they'd committed to tape in their career (I hadn't heard the pre-Muse EP demos at this point, so I didn't know how wrong I was). With a shrug though, I reasoned, "I'll probably end up loving it." And I was right, for here I am, and I do.

The same, of course, was true of the follow-up, Black Holes and Revelations; in fact, not only did I grow to love every track on the album, but I also have a few live bootlegs of it from that tour. It is fair to say that I bloody love it.

Then came The Resistance. "No!" I said, "enough! This time Muse have gone too far!" Subconsciously besieged by all of the early album comparisons between Muse and Queen (pre- Resistance: use of the chromatic scale, which equally was influenced by RATM, and falsetto vocals- see also, Jeff Buckley and Radiohead), it finally became horribly, viscerally real. They finally had taken their 'bombast' (another word beloved of the lazy music press, and printed here for irony's sake only, I promise) to its logical conclusion, and in the Dr. Who theme-esque 'Uprising' had lost me at track one.

I should have just shrugged.

For a few years, Muse had been talking of a project under various guises- a symphony, a theatrical show, an opera; this truly huge project finally emerged as the end of the album in the three-part 'Exogenesis' symphony. It is the single best thing Muse have ever written. Yes, you heard me. Better than 'Coma'. Better than 'Overdue'. Better than 'Citizen Erased'. Better than... you get the idea. Like a virus it spread; from listening to just the last three tracks, I gradually started listening to 'MK Ultra', but still couldn't stomach the rest.

Then came Glastonbury. Safely sandwiched in the Muse hardcore towards the front of the colossal crowd, suddenly the new tracks came alive and I found myself singing along to the mass chant of "EUR-ASIA!" from 'United States of Eurasia' and "We Will Be Victorious!" from 'Uprising'. I left the show thinking that they had worked really well live, and maybe, just maybe, I'd been wrong. When it came time to pack the six CDs I would take backpacking to Morocco with me (yes I still use a CD Walkman, get over it), I found, to my surprise, that The Resistance made the cut. As they say, the rest is history.

..."I Belong To You" is still a piece of shit though. That is the worst thing they've ever done, and will remain so until Matt Bellamy decides to try my patience again.

Now I'm done.

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