This anticipated album from the boys taking from the Radiohead breadbasket sounds more like a band trying to reproduce the epic raucousness of Absolution than the band that actually created it. Many Muse fans will probably be able to tolerate it, but general record buyers, however, will probably not be as generous. Muse made a flash in the pan with their body-double-for-Radiohead 2004 release Absolution but fail to further identify themselves as, well, themselves.
Black Holes and Revelations could easily be mistaken for a Muse tribute album comprised of college freshman bank-rolled by trust funds and dad’s dealership. The album is comprised of all of Absolution’s greatest moments reduxed in a pathetic monument to themselves. Fair to say they are definitely out of Radiohead’s shadow; they’re not even on the same map.
Where Absolution was vindicated by its nifty retro-esque parts, heavy yet smart riffs and clever cynical lyrics, these same ingredients fail to bake into another pop delicious morsel on Black Holes and Revelations. Perhaps it’s the fact that Absolution dropped pre- Killers/Bloc Party/The Bravery, and the electronic dance craze was still a novelty, not an annoyance.
I suppose the question that begs to be addressed is this: Did we really like Absolution in the first place, or was it merely a plausible enough distraction from the All American Rejects? Remember this album hit big close to the same time that Modest Mouse delivered Good News for People Who Love Bad News, a record that wouldn’t even be close to appreciated for another six months by the general public. We were also served up a delicious side of Dear Catastrophe Waitress, Belle and Sebastian’s best foot forward into the pop world (a record that to this day is yet to be appreciated). A lot of us were just discovering the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and let’s not forget that Wilco had recently completed A Ghost is Born, their follow to opus Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
Now that we’ve covered what we should have been listening to instead of, or shortly after Absolution, lets recap what many music-buyers were actually listening to beforehand. Basically two genres ruled the shelves of Best Buy and Hot Topic: retro rock and emo/punk. The Vines, The Hives, The Strokes, Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Simple Plan … you get the idea. I’ll mention the White Strips to be accurate, but not at all to allude that they should be compared on any level to the Muse.
So in short, if we take a long hard honest look, I think we’ll all find that Absolution was at best a relief from our current Windows Media Player party list but didn’t so much make it on our iTune’s 25 most played list. And I fail not to mention the Pixies had yet to reform—and once again destroy the world.
So what once worked for Muse’s benefit—being better than Good Charlotte—fails to pay dividends in the end with Black Holes and Revelations.
I will acknowledge, but not apologize, for this little tangent. I feel it is a necessary for discussing the new Muse record. This album carries all of the trademarks associated with a Muse record but nothing more, sans a couple tracks that could easily find a home on a salsa record. So with Absolution in one hand and a trumpet in the other, Muse have created what will briefly be remembered as Black Holes and Revelations.