On first listening to ‘The Second Law’, it is undeniable that Muse have stepped everything up a few notches. For one, the band attempt to incorporate a variety of genres into the album – some successfully and others questionably. It is an album of complete contrasts, varying from dramatic, pounding fusions of orchestral strings to experimental and indeed controversial electro.
The album opens with the dramatic ‘Supremacy’, which echoes the Olympic single ‘Survivor’, both of which are typically Muse – exaggerated and theatrical, but nevertheless extremely effective. The latest single ‘Madness’ and ‘Follow Me’ both offer us a glimpse into Muse’s newest musical direction and can be said to be the most accessible to non-Muse fans – most will be pleasantly surprised by the gentle electro pop tracks. Yet, the most extreme song on the album without a doubt is the controversial ‘Unsustainable’, which fuses together orchestra, chorus and Skrillex-like ‘bro-step’. Surprisingly, the combination works well together, and is reminiscent of the symphonies closing their last album ‘The Resistance’.
On the other hand, the funky bass line and bright brass of ‘Panic Station’ is of complete contrast, as is the more conventional rock song ‘Liquid State’. While the juxtapositioning of these tracks is striking, it can be said that by incorporating so many styles, the album appears to lack flow and continuity. There are also a few tracks which seem to act merely as fillers, ‘Animals’ and ‘Explorers’ both blend into one and are forgettable, however these more mellow tracks are needed to balance out the over-the-top theatrics of ‘Survival’ and ‘Unsustainable’.
Nevertheless, Muse continue to push themselves in all directions of musical genre. In the words of Matt Bellamy, it is an album which ranges from ‘gangsta-rap jazz odyssey’ to ‘face-melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia’. Certainly, this creative combination delivers a dynamic, exciting, and entertaining album that has the potential to cater for many musical tastes, whilst still remaining undoubtedly ‘Muse’.