Play Louder 2006-05-17 – A Revelation
Black Holes and Revelations review on Play Louder on the 17th May 2006.
New Muse album not as expected. A track-by-track review... 17 May 2006
PlayLouder undertook the task of listening to the new Muse album last night and was pleased.
We were thrust into a room, forced to drink copious amounts of gin and given headphones you could walk around in. It was very handy when needing the lav, which made us wonder, did the Warners people who put this playback together sit down and come up with this idea while brainstorming? Pissing does often spoil a pure listening session, so hats off.
'Black Holes and Revelations' contains the requisite amount of crazy arpeggios, but it's a different beast from their three other albums. It's schizo at times, but at the same time there's a definite deftness about it, especially the production, executed by Rich Costey - who also did the last record. Here's an off-the-cuff blow-by-blow account, though we'll try and consign the cliches to this sentence alone...
Yes, the arpeggios have kicked in, but it's not Muse as you'd necessarily know it. Well, it is, but Bellamy has toned down the shreiking a bit and it sounds kind of like the Pet Shop Boys with Queen on backing vocals. Kind of. This isn't going very well is it?
We're all warmed up now. Crickey, glam handclaps, a vocal worthy of Jamie Harding and a tremendous middle eight. So far so good.
This is where Rich Costey really starts to show why he's paid handsomely. Muse have a go at being sexy, in a similar way to Duran Duran when they followed 'Notorious' with 'Skin Trade'. There's something very Army of Lovers about this record thus far, and if you remember them you're sadder than John Prescott's wife.
Yep - I've been to the toilet during this one. Fantastic! I laughed at the bloke next to me. Men with big headphones on in the bog really look quite funny after four gin cocktails. This one is a bit like Robert Miles. It's not the mind-blower we were expecting thus far, but it's pleasantly, refreshingly quite ace.
Hopefully Bellamy isn't going to get all Wilfred Own on our ass. It's waltzy and possibly quite moving. And very short. Matt's toning it down somewhat. The production on this album is incredible.
If the arpeggios are a feature of Muse, so too is the integral French detective series ballad. Bellamy is having a bit of a wail now, but he seems to be avoiding those high octaves. This one is a builder. Though thankfully it doesn't jeer offensively at attractive women in the street and show the world the top half of where the poo pours out of.
Marillion once had a song called 'Assassin', though that's of little consequence. This is more Death Metal Kagagoogoo really. There are some interesting time signature changes and weirdly they seem to have accidently nicked a section from Ultravox's hugely underrated 'Dancing With Tears In My Eyes' track. Tune.
Not OXO politics. That gag might have raised a mild titter in middle England in 1986, but now I'm not sure why I left it in. The Queen vocal thing is not going away. Is it on purpose? We think so. Rich Costey has clearly been hanging out with Roy Thomas Baker. This is the most convensional [sic] track up to now, but it's acceptable.
The eastern orchestral movements are cool - otherwise this could have been cut and paste from the last album 'Absolution'. There's a neat trumpet trick in the middle that leads nicely into the next track...
Well, we say track, but it's two really, and it's hard to know where the join is. Oh Matthew, you're so prog! Hoodoo... is utterly remarkable. It begins with a flamenco guitar that, um, waltzes, and then there's some deliciously tremelo'ed phrases, before it all goes utterly bonkers, and splits into about 18 different distinct parts. Every muso in the world will love this record. In fact, anyone who likes the sound of horses and spaceships will also adore this. It's bold, it's stomping, it gallops like a motherfucker, it's really funny in places, it's a masterpiece! Release it as a single immediately! Well, both bits. Oh, hang on...
Fans of Muse should be delighted, non-fans somewhat surprised. It looks like Muse are only going to become more massive in the next year...