Muse‘s sixth studio album The 2nd Law arrived today (October 2) and with this effort, the British rock trio proved once again that they are the kings of Queen-sized rock theater. With elements of jazz, dance and (gasp!) dubstep, the band delivered on singer Matthew Bellamy‘s initial promise that the band would play the role of arena-rock chameleons here.
The critical reception has been generally positive, but much like The 2nd Law‘s influences, the opinions about what works and what doesn’t run the spectrum. One surprising trend in the reviews, though, was sex appeal: words like “sexual,” “pelvic” and “funky” kept popping up. It’s a new Muse indeed! Check out the roundup of reviews after the jump.
:: En route to a 4/5 rating, we noted Muse displayed “a new, almost sexual, energy” and that the band “melded arrangements of horns and strings and Valkyrie warrior choirs with the deep, intense bass of dubstep and Bellamy’s trademark roaring guitar solos without feeling forced.”
:: The band’s countrymen over at NME were impressed by the album’s “sexual electro” and “taut funk,” giving the album 8/10. “It’s their most human record since 2003′s ‘Absolution’…what Muse have done is re-establish themselves as a respected British institution by being fun.”
:: The LA Times would agree, as the paper’s reviewer said Muse “have finally made room in their super-sized sound for a sense of humor. This is a far funnier (and funkier) effort than 2009′s ‘The Resistance.’”
:: Also across the pond, The Telegraph handed out 4/5 and put it simply: “Muse’s rather absurd spaceship may be welded together from bits of other acts – but it still flies.”
:: Entertainment Weekly gave the album a middling C+, feeling the Brits tried to be too epic. “The more-is-more problems of ‘Survival’ keep compounding themselves on the band’s sixth album, which often adds a symphony when a simple drum break would do.”
:: Pitchfork was equally unimpressed — though, for the exact opposite reason — on the way to its 5.5/10 judgment. “Having seemingly mastered all modes of excess, you’d think The 2nd Law would be Muse’s unimpeachable triumph. It’s not, and the problem isn’t that Muse have gone too far… they haven’t gone far enough.”
:: Consequence Of Sound wasn’t wild about the album. The 3/5 review docked points because “the 13 tracks lack some focus and cohesion, weakening what should be a limitless, quasi-spiritual slice of rock and roll transcendence.”
:: Billboard pointed out that The 2nd Law “showcases how confidently the trio has reached a new echelon of enormity…[it's] a display of self-assurance coupled with frontman Matt Bellamy’s undying need to experiment.” Perhaps most importantly, “Muse fans will have a hard time being disappointed by ‘The 2nd Law’ and rookies have a new perfect place to jump in.”
:: Spin, however, bestowed it with the dreaded Worst New Music label and was fixated on the band’s Radiohead fixation. “Muse aren’t so much a band as a ripple riding atop the pond that is Radiohead’s sprawling legacy.” The reviewer echoed Pitchfork’s sentiments, saying, “Muse really should’ve gone off the deep end…unleash a dance-rock monstrosity exploding with brutal wobble, air-raid sirens whizzing every which way, and all manner of electro-industrial tantrums. Stop worrying about the impending apocalypse and create your own!”
:: It only makes sense to finish up with another British review. The Guardian gave out a favorable 4/5, calling it a “hugely entertaining album.” The reviewer has one big gripe, though: “Six albums in, this is a recurring problem: amusing and enjoyable as the aural histrionics are, you do start to wonder what, if anything, they’re trying to express, or if it’s just bombast for bombast’s sake.”