TRACK BY TRACK: The Resistance

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You have no idea how long this one has been coming. This has been a Track by Track that I wanted to cover for some time now. I have been wanting to write this one for a very long time. In fact, I nearly did ages ago. But I instead relented and wrote about why I shouldn’t review this album. Mostly because I didn’t want to write bad stuff about my new favourite band. This was going to be my 100th, my 200th, and my 300th post. Obviously, we haven’t got there quite yet, but it’s now or never. Today, my track by track is going to be my most despised album by one of my favourite bands. We are reviewing The Resistance. The worst of the Muse albums.

Now is probably the best time I review this album. Muse have recently released their 9th Studio album ‘Drones’. And I believe I said before it was released that I was very worried that this new album was going to be another ‘The Resistance’. After listening to Mercy, and Psycho, and then getting the album, I concluded that it wasn’t actually that bad. Not as bad as this at least.

Psycho just sounded like one of the tracks on this album. Now, this is probably not the worst thing Muse have done. We all know Neutron Star Collision is reserved a special place in Musical hell. Though it shares a lot of things with this album. 

The Resistance received mostly positive reviews many people highlighting “Guiding Light”, “United States of Eurasia”, and “Exogenesis” as some of the best Muse tracks that had been released. I personally regarded it as overrated, but I could never really explain why. But now I am. I think I have gone on long enough, let’s get to the album.

TRACK ONE: Uprising

The resistance kicks off with a rocky little number which starts the album off to what actually is a good sound. I always love it when an album starts off with something catchy, or unique, or epic. And Uprising does that well. The guitar, the claps, the football crowd style chorus, it actually has a lot going for it, and I respect that.

But I think what lets me down is that it is a fairly long track, at 5 minutes, and the slow, monotone crowd aesthetic kind of get’s dull after the first 2 minutes. And it really does feel like it drags on too long. And that is not good. I want to get into the album, not listen to a 5-minute long chant delivered by a man who really is a great singer. I don’t want to repeat myself, but there is another problem a lot of the album tracks share, its theme. But I’ll discuss that later.

TRACK TWO: The Resistance

I actually do like this track. It has a great, moody and empty sounding start. Before the piano kicks in with the drums. This was built for concert performances. I feel like this track perfectly captures the album, probably because it is what the album is called. The Resistance does what Uprising tried to achieve, and it did it in style. The song tells a story, which fits in with the themes of the album, or rebellion. I feel it would have been a great album closer, but we’ll get to the actual album closer. It does run rather long, but it ultimately is a good track to listen to when you’re at the gym. That’s what I do anyway.

TRACK THREE: Undisclosed Desires

I give this track credit for trying to experiment with the Muse sound. And it is catchy as all hell. This one actually doesn’t feel like it’s too long. But it is so different. I like it, but it’s more a meh from me. I really haven’t got a lot to say. It’s a rock band trying to do a dance track. Very out of genre. It is hard to think of things to actually say anything!

TRACK FOUR: United States of Eurasia (Collateral Damage)

Muse now tries to be Queen, with this song, almost the same length of Bohemian Rhapsody. The prog rock fans among me would really love this. Orchesteral, guitary, and the keyboards, and the Queen like choruses, while managing to keep the Muse sound. It is a bizzare combination of music, as it turns into a piano piece for the last 2 minutes of the track, which is probably the best call, after a bombastic and intense first half of the track. I do like this one, but I do feel it is overrated. Perhaps it does go a little too bombastic at points, more than it should. Muse make some epic guitar solos, and while this song isn’t really a guitar piece, with the orchestra, I think it does try too hard. Good, but oversaturated.

TRACK FIVE: Guiding Light

This is my favourite track on the album and had helped me a lot during a point in my life when I wasn’t feeling too happy. This emotional, gospel sounding song is the best track on this album, and I feel that it is spoiled by some of the others on this album. This song deserved its own release I feel. It does what every song should do. It makes you feel a ton of emotion. Guiding light is a song built on emotional feelings and good ones at that. It tells its story to a remarkably good level, in a 4-minute space. It is probably one of the more toned down pieces in this album, and I absolutely love that. A positive track, with a positive message, I love it.

TRACKS SIX/SEVEN: Unnatural Selection/MK Ultra

These two tracks I decided to pair together for a very specific reason. And that is where they are in this album. Unnatural Selection is a track I like, and I really do dislike MK Ultra. Both share the same faults though, what makes Track 6 better is that it has a more unique sound to it, and I just think it’s a great track. But both are Muse in excess.

Little tropes that you notice with the band are very heavy in this album, and in these two tracks. Both try to sound grander than what I think they should be. I don’t like that. I also feel that these 2 were built for filling up the album with 2 more tracks, as well as making up for the rest of the extended songs of the other tracks. And that is a major problem with me. I don’t mind having fewer tracks if they’re longer, in fact, that intrigues me more. Just filling the gaps with 2 tracks (well, 3 if you count the previous one) is not good. I think it’s shoddy work, in my opinion at least.

TRACK EIGHT:  I Belong to You (+Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix)

In many ways, ‘Eurasia’ and this track share a lot in common, as both songs have distinct sections to them. Except ‘I belong to you’ has 3. The first part, a piano and percussion based section, an operatic section (sang in what I believe is in French, and also very well, I might), before reprising the first section. Arguably, this is very clumsy, but I feel that it works in their favour. Mostly because this is a very toned back track on this album. It just screams ‘Jazz’ and ‘Opera’. It sounds epic on its own merits, without succumbing to some of the Muse tropes that plague this album like…well, the plague. There are a few though, the piano, and Bellamy’s voice. Don’t get me wrong, Muse tropes are good, but I only mention them because they are very obvious if you’ve listened to all of the band’s albums.

TRACKS NINE/TEN/ELEVEN: Exogenesis Symphony

This is something that has recurred in recent Muse albums. A long, and slow, and epic conclusion to the album. Drones did a 10 minute piece, before having an epic dying breath as the album ended. The 2nd Law decided to go all out, with dubstep, and piano, and scary voice overs. But Exogenesis is the prime example of this. The song, the full 12 minute symphony, has 3 distinct segments: Overture, Cross-Pollination, and Redemption.

A song in the long, symphonic style of “Exogenesis” was first hinted at as a possible inclusion for Muse’s fifth studio album in early 2008. Matt Bellamy said “I think on the next album I’d like to do at least one 15-minute space rock solo.” Bellamy suggested that the band may reject the conventional album format in favour of releasing a series of singles, or indeed “one 50-minute symphony.”.

People loved this track. It was bombastic, fresh, and epic. Many fans loved it, and I did as well. But the more I thought about it, was this track any good? Technically, it was. But was it for me? No. It is beautiful and has a lot in common with some of the pieces that ELO did in Eldorado, especially in the first section. It was so different, and it just alienated me. I couldn’t get into this track, nor many of the new tracks in this album, like I did with the previous 4.

As I am older, I do like this track more, as I feel like I admire the balls the band had doing something like that again.

You find as you get older, things do change. I was 12 when this was finally released, and we like it then. But when my Grandma died, it kind of became hard to listen to, seeing my mum’s reaction to it. I assume that the piano had that effect, but it made me start to dislike it, almost resent the album. And writing this review of this album, and listening to it again, has probably made me come to terms with a lot of my own personal demons with this album. Im 18 now, and I feel that now was the right time to give this album justice.

CONCLUSIONS

The Resistance is the weakest Muse album that the band have released. It uses the Muse tropes to an excess, with the guitars, the orchestra, and just trying to top each track after each track, which leads to a terrible mix. I can only say I only truly like 2 tracks from this album, tracks 2 and 5. The rest I’ve been very critical of, as they do run too long, and really, 6 and 7 could have not been on there.

Had the band released a limited number of tracks, which ran long, and did not feel like they extended certain parts, or tried to make each piece sound louder than the other, that would have been great. In fact, they should have released one 50 minute piece, split into ‘tracks’, I would love that.

The themes of the album bug me too. Since Absolution, all Muse albums have had certain, very similar themes, and I feel that this is no exception. Part of my worries about Drones was its themes when it claimed to be ‘returning to the band’s roots’. The themes of the album seem very tiring to me, and I just want an album full of good songs. Not clever social commentary.

But, can I say that this is my most hated album? Well, no. It does a lot wrong, but in all reality, it does a little bit right. There are many redeeming qualities to the album, and many of the tracks do have good qualities. I don’t think the album is great, or even good. My reaction to most of the tracks is ‘I guess I liked it’. It really was quite average. So it is only a 6/10 for me. It does, however, get an A for effort. And now it’s done, THIS ALBUM WILL NEVER PLAGUE ME ANYMORE, I NEVER HAVE TO DISCUSS IT AGAIN, OR MENTION IT AGAIN. HA HA HAAA. Thanks for reading, share your reviews in the comments.

In 5 words: Good effort, but just average

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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