From the Observer Newspaper
Observer Music Monthly 06/06
The former poor man's Radiohead earn Andrew Perry's vote for their unlikely and radical transformation into conscious space-rockers
A frantic, circling sythesised overture opens Muse's fourth album on an ominous note. 'You cast a spell on the country you run,' whispers Matt Bellamy hatefully, as the sense of dread escalates. 'You will risk all our souls/...You will burn in hell for your sins!' A trance/dance beat raises the temperature, until Bellamy's guitar explodes into portentous early-Seventies humungity and - thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening! - a multi-tracked army of Bellamy voices level their final delirious curses: 'You must pay for your crimes against the earth!'
Wow, frankly. This curtain-raiser, bitterly entitled 'Take a Bow', is a real smack in the chops, not just for George W or his British accomplice. Those, like your correspondent, who had filed Muse merely as a subsection of Radiohead are instantly forced to reassess. With 2003's 'Absolution', the Devon-sent trio graduated to Brit-rock's Serie A, upholding OK Computer's stadium-angst long after Radiohead themselves had chosen to abandon it.
As a performer, Bellamy began to cut an intriguingly mysterious figure - flamboyant, virtuoso, a kind of mute fret-fiddling cyborg who wanted nothing of celebrity. Here, Bellamy, now 28, steps from the shadows: of Radiohead, of his erstwhile lyrical introspection. The single, 'Supermassive Black Hole', thunderingly mixes 'Automatic'-era Jesus and Mary Chain with a Prince-like funk, and boasts lyrics like, 'Ooh, baby, I'm a fool for you' - not the doings of a gothy navel-gazer.
The spectre of eco-horro also hovers behind the song; 'Glaciers melt in the dead of night'. Almost throughout, Bellamy's political awakening unfolds: on the prettily arpeggiated 'Soldier's Poem', the growly 'Assassin' and the crunching 'Exo-politics' (key lyrics: 'when diseases fill our skies, it's just our leaders in disguise').
Unusually for agit-pop, the musical backdrops are ambitious, exhilarating, sometimes ineffably beautiful. Amid the high-rolling track-rock echoes - lashings of Queen-y pomp; U2's 'The Unforgettable Fire' on the heart-swelling 'Invincible' - it's evident that Muse have been grooving on uplifting house, as disco beats, acid crescendos and Robert Miles-style two-finger piano melodies abound.
That thread of tech-euphoria climaxes in 'Knights of Cydonia', the album's jaw-dropping finale, which also features galloping horses, Roswell FX, spaghetti western twanging, and a brilliant closing spurt of Black Sabbath riffing, as the Bellamy army cries its last defiant chorus: 'No one's gonna take me alive!'.
Entertaining and rabble-rousing, daft and deadly serious, it's a fantastic record, with almost limitless appeal. The vote just started rocking again...
DOWNLOAD: 'Knights of Cydonia', 'Supermassive Black Hole'