New songs review (20060315 NME article)

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MUSE's fourth album sees the band getting political for the first time. NME visited the group as they complete mixing on their as-yet-untitled fourth record at London's Sanctuary Townhouse Studio, and as well as premiering the new tracks, Matt Bellamy explained how this time, recent world events have influenced him. "There's a song called 'A Soldier's Poem', written from the perspective of a soldier, who kind of thinks, 'I'm out here risking my life, for what'," he said. Bellamy added that the themes of impending apocalypse also visited on their last album 'Absolution' are more specific now. "There is a theme on the album, it's that kind of connection to the cycles of history where the tension builds up and then it's released, " he said, "whether it's catastrophic like a nuclear war, or aliens come down and it's brilliant. But there's definitely a sense of something big is about to happen." MUSE decamped to Miraval Studios in the South of France to start the album, before heading to New York to record the songs with long-time producer Rich Costey. Virtually cut off without cars or television in France, Bellamy admitted that the band were in danger of going "off the rails", and enjoyed hitting the big city. "I was out dancing in clubs around New York," said the singer. "That helped create tracks like 'Supermassive Black Hole'. Franz have done it very well, with that whole dance-type beat going on mixed with alternative guitar and I've always wanted to find that for ourselves." Tracks for the record include 'Hex', a looping epic that morphs into a twitchy gothic fairytale, while the aforementioned 'A Soldier's Poem' finds Bellamy wailing "There's no justice in the world, and there never was" over backing that recalls Granddaddy and a barbershop quartet. 'Supermassive Black Hole' has Bellamy crooning, "You are the queen of the superficial, but how long before you tell the truth?", while 'Starlight' is a souped-up cousin of The Strokes' '12:51'. Other tracks previewed include 'Invincible', a romantic melody built around a military marching beat that sees the band issuing the following rallying call: "Tonight we can truly sing, together we're invincible", while 'Knights of Cydonia', named after a region on Mars where life may have existed, mixes classic MUSE rock with Ennio Morricone-style choral segments. The album is due out in July, with Bellamy confident that people will react to its more topical themes. "Some of the songs are directly informed by things that are going on at the moment," he declared, referencing the Iraqi war, "which is something we've not really done before. But it's impossible for anyone to ignore it."

By Andy Willsher

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