Muse's 'The 2nd Law': What the Critics Are Saying
It's been three years since British rock band Muse released their Grammy-award winning album, The Resistance.
Their latest album title, The 2nd Law, is inspired by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that if no energy enters or exits the system during an exchange, the potential energy of state will always be less than that of its original state. In other words, the record’s name suggests the amount of musical energy to explode throughout the Brit trio’s new record.
The critics are mixed on the group's new release, with many praising their big, oversized sound, while some remain unimpressed.
Read below for a sampling of top reviews for The 2nd Law:
Billboard’s Zach Dionne is a fan: “The 2nd Law is blatantly frontloaded, but when that sin is committed entirely through songs Muse will be playing live for the rest of their careers-huge, gaudy pieces of orchestration -- it's hard to complain about something as piddling as a less-remarkable back end. Muse fans will have a hard time being disappointed by The 2nd Law, and rookies have a new perfect place to jump in.”
Melinda Newman from HitFix says, “Muse’s overwrought flamboyance has helped make it one of the most popular touring bands of the last several years. But what works well with 18,000 fervent followers with raised arms in an arena can just sound like too much excess in the confines of an album. With its operatic chants and message about vengeance, explosive first single (and Olympics theme) 'Survival' felt more like a parody than a true anthem. The band toned down the theatrics for second single, the synth-poppy “Madness” and was rewarded with a No. 1 tune on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart.”
However, Newman points out, “The 2nd Lawwill likely have Muse fans salivating over the group’s continued bombastic musical salvos, while non-believers will have plenty more to hold against the band.”
Colin Stutz gives the album a 4 out of 5 Idolator rating and notes, “Most such lyrical shortcomings, however, are excused by the sweet funk on this album that would forgive far more inane thoughts and phrasings. Throughout hard and heavy riffs and a new, almost sexual, energy, the groove carries this album. Impressively, Muse has melded arrangements of horns and strings and Valkyrie warrior choirs with the deep, intense bass of dustup and Bellamy’s trademark roaring guitar solos without feeling forced. Rather, it comes off as a natural progression for a band that has always prided its experimentalism. Hardline fans may have trouble adjusting, and so curse current musical trends, but they will be wrong to do so. Rather, if this is a path Muse continues, it will be the band’s saving grace. Those in doubt need only look to science for proof.”
On the other hand, Kyle Anderson from Entertainment Weekly gives the album a C+ grade and criticizes that, “Otherwise, there are an awful lot of strings-and-timpani Queen-isms, including the opener, 'Supremacy,' which Bellamy sings like he's bellowing about the power of the music of the night. Law does make some concessions to the lighter-wavers in the upper deck who just wanna rock: See the bass-slapping 'Panic Station' and U2-worthy end-of-days anthem 'Big Freeze.' Leave the rock operas to other Olympians; like elite sprinters, Muse are best when they're surging straight ahead.”
Allison Stewart from The Washington Post agrees: “A dizzying mix of arena rock, dubstep, prog and a whole bunch of other things it mostly doesn’t need, The 2nd Law is a mess and a hoot. (The title refers to the second law of thermodynamics, but don’t worry if you’ve forgotten it; Muse has hired Creepy Generic Sci-Fi Lady to explain it to you, in detail, on 'Unsustainable.')”
Stewart follows up with, “There’s nowhere to go but up and The 2nd Law is engineered to dazzle and thrill. It offers everything from earnest power balladry ('Explorers') to dubstep ('Madness') to reheated Red Hot Chili Peppers ('Panic Station'). Every song is the musical equivalent of a clown car, with five or six ideas, genres or competing forms of instrumentation spilling out."
Los Angeles Times’ Mikael Wood thinks otherwise and concludes, “What distinguishes The 2nd Law from earlier Muse records is that Bellamy and his bandmates have finally made room in their super-sized sound for a sense of humor. This is a far funnier (and funkier) effort than 2009's The Resistance, which handled similar themes with a glum sobriety. Here 'Madness' rides a fat-bottomed R&B groove, and the slap-bass-enhanced 'Panic Station' feels like a homage to Robert Palmer’s mid-'80s soul-rock crew, the Power Station. ''This chaos, it defies imagination,' Bellamy sings in the latter. What better excuse for a party?”