‘The 2nd Law’ (Helium 3/Warner)
Ridiculousness: it’s a sort of art form, right? From Dadaism via Salvador Dali making a telephone out of a crustacean, right up to that modernist, Hogarthian TV thing set in Essex where everyone’s got glitter on their flaps. Absurdity has found a way in. It’s welcome.
Luckily, Muse, the nation’s foremost purveyors of ridiculous rock music, have remembered this on their sixth album.
There’s a moment, about two minutes into ‘The 2nd Law’, roughly when Matt Bellamy unleashes the ﬁ rst of his spiralling operatic ululations, and just before the brass band, when you realise that Muse have left the saturnine sounds of ‘The Resistance’ far behind. The relative po-facedness of that record has been rejected in favour of a lurid technicolour and sci-ﬁ grandiloquence that makes even the intergalactic whirlpools of ‘Black Holes And Revelations’ seem no bigger than something you’d putt a golf ball into.
Of course, some of it you’ll already know: ‘Survival’ you’ll recognise from its role as the ofﬁ cial song of the Olympics, no doubt recalling with a wince the vast scale of all that was implausible about it; from the portentous symphony of piano and bleating Bellamys at the beginning, right up to the Omen-like apex, with its demented chant of “Win!Win!Win!”.
The dubstep-inspired and politically-charged ‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable’, trailed well in advance of the album’s release, is even more mental, like Skrillex having a go at writing Have I Got News For You?, The Musical. ‘Madness’ is somewhere between U2’s ‘Lemon’ and Queen’s ‘A Kind Of Magic’; ‘Panic Station’ sounds like INXS; ‘Liquid State’ like Death From Above 1979 riding jetskis over Niagra.
The scale is such that you have to stand back in a kind of addled awe. Much in the same way that you might regard a 75ft-high luminous pink pissing ﬂ amingo water feature; you have to admire the size of the ambition and the craftsmanship, even if it’s not something you’d
necessarily want at your own house.
It’s a folly, really. Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard are merely the bored eccentrics with nothing better to do than build it. Frankly, it’d be churlish to begrudge them the indulgence.