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Bit late to the party, but the new Muse record, ‘The 2nd Law’ is now officially streaming. Point your browser toward the following URL:

http://muse.mu/news,listen-to-the-2nd-law-online_1411.htm?loc=&currency=gbp

where you’ll be given directions to the sites streaming the songs, depending on your geographic region.

First impressions here are that the band are further developing the eclectic approach that erupted on 2006’s ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ (my personal favourite from Muse‘s catalog to date) and was explored – to arguably less-consistent effect – on 2009’s ‘The Resistance’. I’ve long enjoyed the fact that Muse embraced the chest-beating bombast and inherent silliness that characterises rock’n’roll (and certain exponents of Prog in particular) but what realy set them apart from other world-beating acts of their stature is their ability to juxtapose this with a knowing wink, whilst remaining – at their best – genuinely affecting.

On Madness and Survival, the band expose their inner Queen to a hereforeto unprecedented degree (how Brian May is the solo on the former?), and recent single release ‘The 2nd Law: Unsustainable‘ is the latest instalment in Matt Bellamy‘s documentation of the Apocalypse; segueing from glitchy, doom-laden news broadcasts to explosive bro-step, pinned down by thrilling, cinematic string orchestrations. This could be the best thing Muse have ever recorded, a mash up of styles pulled off with a verve and ambition that recalls Bowie’s excursions into DnB/Industrial territory a decade ago.

Despite being at least as all-encompassing as The Resistance, this feels at first impression to be a far more cohesive, better-paced piece of work. If you miss the more metal-infused Muse of old then this is maybe not the album you want to hear; but for Prog-heads who have long regarded this band as the – legitimate and credible – second coming of that early ’70s explosion this is going to blow your mind. There’s surprisingly little ROCK in the accepted sense, by why should there be? Prog married the virtuosity and ambition of Classical and Jazz musos with the pop music OF THE DAY. Yes, Genesis, Zappa et al might sound retro today but at the time they were cutting edge shit. Muse get this, and at their best manage to sound both classic and contemporary. Like other exponents of modern-day ‘progressiveness’ – Radiohead, Tool, Pure Reason Revolution, Von Hertzen Brothers, Flying Colors etc – they balance their sonic exploration with hooks and melody. There’s more bombast, more ambition, more atmosphere, more soul and, well, just more. How they’re ever gonna top this is anybody’s guess.

p.s.

If you enjoy the bigness and high camp of Muse, Queen, Sparks et al but have a ken for something a bit more ‘balls out’, head on over here for a stream of the new Devin Townsend album:

http://ametalstateofmind.com/?s=devin+townsend

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