Words: Roddy from the Northern Territories
Kids, this next installment of Rocktober comes with a huge caveat, which you can skip altogether, but the story must be known: THE RESISTANCE is the album that made me become the very thing I had been resisting: a critic!
But I digress! The bottom line is that there’s something absolutely terrifying, sacred and cathartic about earnestly taking a risk and bearing one’s creative soul. And it rips me to god@#$ shreds when doing so becomes an open invitation for some pompous @$hole’s snark platform. To criticize is far too easy, and as a culture, we’ve become so hard to impress and so quick to judge and dismissively tear down. “WOW ME” says the snob. “F*#$ YOU” says the kid with the guitar. And that’s exactly how it should be, damn it.
Granted, to share an off-the-cuff thought with a friend or two is fine and natural -- and that’s what I view this site as -- and again, art isn’t immune to critique, after all – we the people are busy and rely on those we trust, and we can read the reviewers we like and trust and simply ignore the rest -- but nevertheless, I fear that to celebrate critique so highly, and/or turn it into a calling, would likely strip both music and writing of the very joys that drew me to each, in the meantime possibly compromising a principle or two. Besides, I have friends already much better than me at this sort of thing who are already getting published in high-profile outlets, so I’d always thought I’d keep my own thoughts to a narrow distribution list (much narrower than this -- oops) while practicing my own chops, in the hopes that maybe I can be on the Other side of the harsh reviewer’s wicked pen some day.
BUT ALAS. I must confess, I’ve come around to the Dark Side. In fact, it was a kind and eloquent critic friend who once shared his obscenely amazing Press “+1” ticket with me, who in his headcold-addled, miserable, pummeled-by-garish-tween-angst-rock state ever-so-gently and without an ounce of force lifted the BLINDED BY ZOMG METAL veil from my eyes and revealed “The Muse” (as Bono put it)’s fermented curds for what they were: Oh So Cheesy Sci-Fi Spaceboner Poppin’ Out Yr Sequined Pants, lulz!
Point being, with earlier albums, the seeds of MUSE’s current angle were there, but they hadn’t quite developed, much less run right off the edge of the intergalactic cliff. But of course now, they’re a household name. They’ve amassed the Twilight crowd’s awe and affection, as well as a ringing Glen Beck endorsement! – seriously?? Seriously! – granted, neither of which they were expecting, I’m sure, but both of which can’t help but be a hit to the credibility of their orchestrated “uprising.” That’s not to say this album doesn’t Bring It. It does, and that’s why it’s being featured here today. But if you asked me whether or not MUSE has jumped the shark, I wouldn’t flinch for a millisecond. And that makes me a sad hobbit-lover indeed.
To be fair, I’m not expecting a 10-point plan for global reform or anything – that’s not music’s primary job in my view (hear that, Church of Bono?) – but when their main audience appeal shifts from socially conscious adults to the Tweens Rebelling Against Parents (TRAP!) set, you’re bound to lose some of your serious-social-justice-movement/ trenchant-political-commentary swagger. And I think to remedy that, MUSE either has to become far more tongue-in-cheek about their bag o’ tricks and acknowledge this element, or else enjoy it while it lasts but immediately hang up the space boots come next album and try something completely different. Fine line between good drama and farce… and sadly, this one is so clean, so polished, and so efficient that it sounds like it could grease the slippery slopes of any poorly designed, easily co-opted, well-meaning, rebel-without-a-clue revolution. Despite so much glam-poppy goodness, there is so very little raw grit with which to actually resist.
So in sum, in the words I once spoke to my chunkiest-glasses-wearing friends from the planet of Zebulon as I skipped band practice in favor of catching MUSE’s The Resistance tour show:
Thanks to tonight's impending glambastic orgy of relentless, laser-laden, sci-fi-futuRIFFic, dystopia-shredding, unapologetic, un-ironic grandiosity -- courtesy of the universe's preeminent interstellar UK power trio, MUSE -- this week your eardrums are all spared. Next week, however, you should only be so lucky, as no starkly exposed soul shall be safe out from underneath the shadow of this epically eclipsing infinitely powerful prog-metal starship of the rockpocalypse!
Or if you prefer