Muse – The 2nd Law (Warner)

A letter to the men who killed Muse.

The second law: the tendency that, over time, differences in temperature, pressure, chemical potential equilibrate in an isolated physical system so as to result in the natural entropic dissolution of the system itself.

It’s a suicide, basically.

I’ve been dreading this day since 1999. The day when a Muse album would not be to my liking. Immediately. Back then U2‘s riffs were astonishingly similar one to the other, everyone still recalled the theme from the Never ending story, the bridge for Thriller, Faith by George Michael was still on every sad tape in any given car stereo and Muse were composing astonishing never before heard music.

Fine, that’s not entirely true. They used to write compelling music mixing together the future and the past, a past long gone made of strings and movements and endless keyboards. Those endless keyboards were not scary, though. Matthew Boodman T. D. Lemon Novecento Bellamy used to play fearlessly, with the keys spreading far like a wide horizon. They would pillage from dusty music sheets to gather the ingredients they needed to revive a melody, to infuse new energy into instruments and when the old ones wouldn’t do they’d create new ones, stitched up obliging monsters with no name yet. I’m all in favour of honouring the past. The past is what gets us where we are and there’s no point in denying it.

But objection 1: Honouring is never, in no given case, doing the same thing and slapping your name on it like you’ve found an unexplored shore.
2: When so little time has gone by Matt, I’m sorry to say so, but it’s still plagiarism. Even if they’re all dead. Eventually people will realise this, stop ascribing you merits that belonged to others before, and you won’t get your dose of borrowed light any longer. Ask Noel.

Or maybe Muse are done revising classical music and twenty years ago is the new past they want to muse-shape.

Have I aged that much? Maybe Muse are still doing the same thing, but on a past I remember first hand because I was already there. I won’t tolerate any blasphemy on the lines of “there’s just seven notes, after all”, not from you, Mr Bellamy.
You were the land rover of music. They could go loud, but you could go anywhere, no melodies here except Matt Bellamy.

And even if I did you’ve already used up your bonus with The Resistance. Let’s be serious, people. That wasn’t an album. That was half an album drowned into an onanistic symphony. We all praised it because no one could actually utter the words “Muse have done something wrong”. Or at least “something not quite right”.
We admired the Emperor’s clothes, oh look, it’s such a fine silk, translucent almost, you can barely see it! Well no, honey, he’s naked, that’s not a pinkish sheen, it’s his arse.

Let’s be brave and admit it.
The Emperor is naked.
Supremacy feels like a Batman theme, the Tim Burton ones. Panic Station traces out Thriller as mentioned (“imagination” is also in the exact same position). Survival is Matt screaming he wishes he were Freddie Mercury. Follow me is the one that will lead you to dreams of flying dragons and Ivory towers, just to mention a few. Upon a first listening… well, to recover I just listened to Bliss and cried.
And the thing that disturbs me the most is that people are stepping up defending this album claiming you’re a waste of skin if you don’t get it. Like you have to be clever to settle for this.

I remember what a Muse album meant. You were never done listening to all the different layers. Instruments upon instruments, and the voice recalcitrantly leading them all giving them a direction, like a young promising general troops learn to trust victory after victory, on the field. Nobody needed to voice out loud compliments or praises, it was all in front of you, self explanatory really. Allegedly Matthew knew his voice wasn’t his strong suit. What changed? Because now these appallingly boring melodic lines are crowned with a boisterous and sad attempt at sounding lyrical, something you’d expect from your fat neighbour in the shower with improvised lyrics on Andrea Bocelli.

The 2nd law is preposterous, hearing it chanting of triumphs is pathetic. Muse never needed to enumerate them when the real triumphs were rolling in.
Heard victories are sweet, but those unmentioned are classier.

Matt, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for you, I am. As a human. Happy humans should never ever write music. Unless you write dance. Being happy is fine for dancing. Do you write dance music now Matt? Apparently so. You need some sort of longing, of restlessness to be meaningful, to be a lifeline, to leave a trace when the lights in the big impressive stadium have gone out. Otherwise you’re just the bulky building the city splurged on for the Olympics pissing everyone off with the money it cost and what it did to the traffic that’s sitting there gathering dust after three roaring weeks.

Then I listened to it again.
And again.
I tried listening to Faith, or the theme for Never ending story and they all sounded rather dull, suddenly. Like they’ve irreparably aged.
And I saw the light.
Muse have rewritten them.
And the two tracks in the extended version (Isolated system and Unsustainable) are sublime, beautiful and scary at the same time.
Forgive me Your Highness, for I doubted.
Look at the silk, so exotic, and thin, and the cut, did I mention the cut? It’s brilliant.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.