Fourth album theory

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This article was written prior to the release Black Holes and Revelations as a speculative tract. It is kept here for historical significance only. For more information about "the fourth album", go to Black Holes and Revelations.

Originally written for the Microcuts fansite in 2005.

Known facts

Almost certain that Rich Costey will produce the next album. He is on top form at the moment. He has produced the phenomenal Mars Volta album 'Frances The Mute' and has re-mixed the Franz Ferdinand download single 'This Fire.'

Likely facts

Five new songs have been played on the latter stages of the US tour, the Earls Court gigs and the MTVU Campus Invasion Tour - 'DES,' 'Crying Shame (song),' 'Burning Bandits/Pee Candle,' 'Debase Masons Grog' and a cover of Lightning Bolt's 'Dracula Mountain.' New song working titles were also revealed in Matt's board post in October. The band thinks that if they play new songs live they appear as B-sides.

However, their track record for testing out songs on the 2002 festival tour (not riffs like the Stockholm Syndrome riff, Butterflies & Hurricanes piano interlude and Falling Away With You jam) were on the album. Apocalypse Please (then known as 'Emergency'), Hysteria ('I Want You Now') and The Small Print ('Action Faust') were all played and made it to Absolution, countering the B-sides of Fury ('Get A Grip') and Eternally Missed ('Rusty One'). Their track record for early Origin Of Symmetry tracks is also pretty good. More than half of the tracks were road-tested beforehand.

Also, they said in a short article in the NME in January that they might test out new songs. "What I'd love to do is get a little space in London, like a kind of thing where we can do private gigs to rehearse the songs before we record them. "I think that's a good vibe - getting people on message boards to come, so you get the pressure of a gig. As soon as you play a song in a gig situation you really work out. It really changes your whole concept."

New song lyrical meanings

But what do the lyrics mean? I had a close look at the lyrics and this is my theory, which may be very inaccurate considering all the different versions that are buzzing around the Muse fansites: DES: A very hard one this, but possible suggestions include religion, war and betrayal. Crying Shame: A wild guess would be about someone who isn't considered good enough to be accepted ('When it's way too late/We'll cleanse the god/And consider you'). Burning Bandits: The last two lines pretty much say it I think ('I'm waiting so patiently/But I'll wait for the truth'). Debase Masons Grog: Not too sure on this either but I reckon religion and betrayal is likely.

Number of songs

As far as we know, on a Canadian music program called Music Plus, 17 songs had been written for the new album and recently on Channel 4's teletext service, Matt said that whilst he was in Bhutan, he wrote another five. Chris also said in a French magazine recently that four or five have been written other than the new ones with 'some have come on a long way, whilst others are still in the conceptive state and need a lot of work.' This brings together a potential total of 22 songs. The prediction is that 11-13 songs will appear on the album, more B-sides (all Absolution singles had a measly three new songs) and some of them will probably be scrapped.

Far-Eastern influence

As Matt wrote some songs in Bhutan, there might be a more Far Eastern influence. The only thing that comes close to a Far Eastern influence in Muse's songs recently is the opening percussion sound in Falling Away With You. Far Eastern influence could mean that the new album will have more interesting-sounding percussion and possibly more strings. Possible evidence of this influence is seen in Debase Masons Grog with the bridge after the first chorus, a sort of congo Vietnam feel is evident.

Stripped-down

In the NME in September, Matt said that they would try and be less bombastic on the next album. Instead, he wanted stripped-down and more minimal and exposed as a three-piece band. This could be a return to the good old Showbiz days.

The Strokes

Well, we had to get to them at some point. Many fans will know that since September, Matt has been going on about The Strokes, saying that he really liked their music. He said that they have melodies that you've known all your life. He even said he wanted the new songs to sound like that, only heavier. However, this may not be the case. Chris said shortly after that the new stuff doesn't sound like the Strokes and Matt denied it in the NME in December.

Citizen Erased II

One song has been described by Matt in an interview as a seven-minute progressive, arpeggiated nightmare. Notice the word, arpeggiated. This means that we could have a much lighter version of Citizen Erased, mixed with Bliss and the piano arpeggio in Stockholm Syndrome. Incidentally, in the NME in December, Matt said there was a song that is even more bombastic than Butterflies & Hurricanes. Matt’s recent board posting suggests a high chance for a song with ‘the cycling endlessly key-changing inferno’.

Trumpets

Muse have never used trumpets in their songs, and the next album could well be the debut. On Music Plus, they also said that they had a trumpet section in a song lined up and they wanted Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers to play the part. I don't think the guest appearance by Flea is likely somehow.

Another new song

Apparently, at the Smalls Theatre, Millvale in the USA, Muse played another new song. It was, apparently, an extended version of the piano piece that Matt has played before Sunburn in almost every concert in 2004. Even more interestingly, Matt said it would be the first song off the new album. Since we do not have an audio of this, judgement is reserved for now.

Concept album

In the NME in December, when NME posed the question of a Muse musical, Matt had this to say; "It would be the story of a lone ranger, some kind of weird futuristic lone ranger type, travelling round the world waiting to save the world from the end of the world and the destruction of everything. It'd be to do with saving the world the world. Definitely".

This suggests that a concept album could be on the cards. And why not? They are so suddenly coming back into music with the worldwide success of Green Day's fantastic punk political album 'American Idiot' seeing Green Day being catapulted into one of the hottest musical acts in the world and UK hip-hop act The Streets releasing 'A Grand Don't Come For Free'.

There are also two interesting links. Firstly, Morgan Nicholls, a person who is a member of The Streets' band and who filled in for Chris in the latter part of the festival circuit last year, could have influenced Muse. Secondly, and more likely, Rich Costey mixed 'Frances The Mute,' an album by the fantastic Mars Volta, which incidentally was a story in album. Rich might pass on these ideas to Muse. Muse also happen to like Green Day and The Streets.

Working titles

We've already heard of 'DES', 'A Crying Shame,' ‘Pee Candle,’ and ‘Debase Masons Grog’ but what about 'Church Of The Sub Genius?' In the NME in December, that was a song that Matt said had been named. Matt’s recent board posts suggest that Church Of The Sub Genius is also a major contender for inclusion for the new album. Drunken Military Marching Band and Key-Inferno Change are also contenders.

Country

One of the more well-known ideas that Muse fans know about is a song that was described by Muse in the NME in December. "One song sounds like Calexio and epic country. It sounds like a man riding a horse playing a trumpet in Mexico and then being shot by bandits. A little bit of Kill Bill." This kind of links to the idea of using a trumpet from earlier on.

More interesting instruments

Matt suggested two interesting instruments for the recordings of album four. The first is a flamenco which, whilst unusual for a band like Muse, will not be surprising to long-term fans as this instrument was used in Muscle Museum. The other is a Tex-Mex guitar, which is a very Mexican sounding instrument. This would explain the 'epic country' idea earlier on.

Tom Waits

Tom Waits is a hero of Matt's. He said to the NME that there is a Tom Waits-style idea. This is no surprise as he was interviewed in the NME for their 'Why I Love' feature and he went to Tom Wait's first UK gig in 17 years last year at the Hammersmith Apollo (ironically, Thom Yorke of 'that band' was also there).

Upbeat

Matt has said that the new album will also be much more upbeat than the apocalyptic sound of Absolution. Matt said to MTV, "[Depression] is the beginner's emotion. I find it more of a challenge to explore different sides of your personality apart from just the downside". He is also trying to channel his emotion into writing new songs with a positive vibe, looking to "draw on things like optimism and hope".

However, this may or may not happen as Matt explains. "It's much easier to write dark songs than uplifting ones, or it is for me. I've always had periods of my life where I've felt optimistic, but I haven't been able to express that in music without sounding cheesy". This is also reflected in the lyrics for DES and A Crying Shame.

The Tornadoes

The Tornadoes were a band that Matt's father was in. They made instrumental music and were the first British band to have a number 1 in the US. Matt said to Q magazine in January that he wanted to create Tornado style songs that were "two and a half minute explosions of pure joy".

There have never been any real instrumental songs on any of Muse's albums (not counting Forced In and The Gallery from Hullabaloo). They have done something like this before in the shape of Minimum, a B-side off the Muscle Museum vinyl. This also links to the more upbeat sound that Matt wants to create.

Franz Ferdinand

Another unlikely influence is Franz Ferdinand. Muse have praised the band for a while and Matt said in Q magazine last year when describing Franz Ferdinand's debut album 'Franz Ferdinand' as his album of 2004 that "they're combining dance music and rock music in a really cool way, without samples or sequencers. It's something we're interested in trying." This could also link to the fact that Rich Costey re-mixed 'This Fffire' as a download release and I think that the Franz Ferdinand influence may appear on album four.

Disco!

Matt said in an interview last year to Q, "I think the combination of guitar rock and full-on '70s disco is ready to be exploited properly," he says. "Like Night Fever, but heavy. Or Billy Jean. A little bit rock guitar, a little bit disco". The fact that Muse will probably go to New York to record some of it might give this statement some backing. This would make sense because the Lightning Bolt cover they did kind of fits in as disco funk rock for the new millennium, or "Shronk" music (NME journalists are stopping the press as we speak).

Ditched Ideas

I originally thought that the following could appear on the album:

   * Piano Interlude
   * Dracula Mountain (cover of a song by Lightning Bolt)
   * Green Day Inspired Punk
   * Franz Ferdinand Inspired
   * Showbiz II

Electronics

Matt posted that Dom was using a redrum instead of his normal kit, according to Matt on his board post. Matt also mentioned some info on playing Sex In The City through a Big Muff backwards, so they might be toying around with sampling. Some will shout ‘Muse are going to do a Radiohead!’ but it won’t be Kid A… I promise.

Da Vinci Code?

In Matt’s board post, he mentioned stuff about ghosts of the Knights templar and Jesus’ ex. These are both references to Matt’s latest book read, The Da Vinci Code. Matt has read books like Hyper Space and Rule By Secrecy before, both inspiring songs on previous albums. This evidence looks very likely to have some influence.

Cryptology

In February this year, the album title 'Cryptology' popped up quite rapidly but Tom Kirk denies this. However, it may have influenced Muse. This is Chris talking in a French magazine about using anagrams: 'It stemmed from the title of one of the new songs we played 'Codebreak Shy Outsider', which was an anagram of 'Des is our keyboard tech', which gave us the idea to organise a sort of treasure hunt. Because we did this off the top of our heads, we had to rack our brains to find a prize, so we gave away bikes, which you can ride round the campus on.' Matt also said to an eager fan that he wanted the new album to be a great big treasure hunt with lots of codes. It could well happen folks.

Conclusion

This is what the vision of the album could be, based on the evidence:

NAME Cryptology

PRODUCER Rich Costey

CURRENT TRACKS DES, A Crying Shame, Burning Bandits, Dracula Mountain (the Lightning Bolt cover), Debase Mason's Song, Church Of The Sub Genius, Drunken Military Band, Cycling Endlessly Key Changing Inferno

All the songs in the line-up sound less world-ending than Absolution, except for DES, and are more upbeat, like Matt said to MTV last year. These new songs tie in well with my theory, as it does to my tracklisting. Here was my original tracklisting:

  • 1. Piano Interlude
  • 2. Green Day Inspired Punk (possible single)
  • 3. DES (possible single)
  • 4. Flamenco/Tex-Mex
  • 5. Tornadoes Inspired Instrumental
  • 6. Strokes Inspired
  • 7. A Crying Shame (possible single)
  • 8. Epic Country
  • 9. Far-East
  • 10. Showbix II
  • 11. Citizen Erased II
  • 12. Franz Ferdinand Inspired (possibly single)
  • 13. Cover Of 'Dracula Mountain' by Lightning Bolt
  • 14. Church Of The Sub Genius
  • 15. Tom Waits Inspired Acoustic

But as the tour in America went on, it became more apparent that some of the new songs were matching my predictions. Here is my updated tracklising:

  • 1. Piano Interlude
  • 2. Green Day Inspired Punk (possible single)
  • 3. DES (possible single)
  • 4. Flamenco/Tex-Mex
  • 5. Tornadoes Inspired Instrumental
  • 6. Pee Candle (possible single)
  • 7. A Crying Shame (possible single)
  • 8. Epic Country
  • 9. Debase Mason's Grog
  • 10. Showbiz II
  • 11. Citizen Erased II
  • 12. Franz Ferdinand Inspired (possibly single)
  • 13. Cover Of 'Dracula Mountain' by Lightning Bolt
  • 14. Church Of The Sub Genius
  • 15. Tom Waits Inspired Acoustic

And then it changed into this after Matt’s board post:

  • 1. Some sort of intro (drunken military marching band?)
  • 2. DES (possible single)
  • 3. Flamenco/Tex-Mex
  • 4. Tornadoes inspired instrumental
  • 5. Pee Candle (possible single)
  • 6. A Crying Shame (possible single)
  • 7. Epic Country
  • 8. Debase Mason's Grog
  • 9. Citizen Erased II (or Cycling Endlessly Key Changing Inferno)
  • 10. Electronic track involving a redrum and samples
  • 11. Church Of The Sub Genius

Chris has also said that the album should come out in April 2006, with Matt hinting at a worldwide release this time around. I expect it to see the light of day at the beginning of July. However, HMV have it listed as a May release on their database.

I must also state that this is a theory. This is not fact.


From here onward is MuseWiki information, not from the original text.

Black Holes and Revelations

As of the release of the fourth album, the predicted songs can now be traced to the final album:

  • Electronic track involving a redrum and samples, Cycling Endlessly Key Changing Inferno became:

Take a Bow

  • Franz Ferdinand Inspired became:

Supermassive Black Hole

  • Strokes Inspired became:

Starlight

  • Drunken military marching became:

Invincible

  • Deabse Masons Grog, Lightning Bolt influence became:

Assassin

  • Burning Bandits became:

Exo-Politics

  • Flamenco/Tex-Mex became:

Hoodoo

  • Tornadoes Inspired Instrumental, Epic Country became:

Knights of Cydonia

B-sides

  • A Crying Shame became:

Crying Shame

  • Church Of The Sub Genius, DES became:

Glorious

Unmentioned:

Still missing from released songs are those said to have been inspired by the Far East (possibly included in then dropped from Exo-Politics by the time it came to recording it), Tom Waits, or Green Day (though this may have been a reference to the politcal nature of some lyrics on Black Holes and Revelations).

It also appears that Muse gave no reference to Soldier's Poem, Starlight, Easily, or the Chateau Mireval B-Sides (inc. the "James Bond Theme") during the early interviews.

So far, 15 tracks are accounted for: 11 album tracks, and 4 B-Sides. This means that there are 5 tracks yet to be released.

Sources: NME, The Fly, Q magazine, MTV, Music Plus, Muse Rock, Micro Cuts


Go back to Black Holes and Revelations