Music Review – The 2nd Law (Part 1)

Kevin Brown: It’s time for the first-ever Kevin Reviews Things Email Collaboration Review Between Four People! (I think that’s probably the best name for this segment, no?) Today, we’ll be reviewing The 2nd Law – the most recent release from one of my favorite modern bands, Muse. More on that in a second.

First, let’s introduce the “we” part of the equation. In one corner…you’ve previously seen him debate his five favorite musicians on the blog, a segment which included Muse’s Matthew Bellamy. Please welcome the man who lives his life by two words – “Gronk” and “Smash”…Alex Brewer!

Eat your heart out, Flutie.

Alex Brewer: Thanks for having me again, Brown, and gentlemen, good evening. I already know that I am going to be the only real defender of this album of the group, and look forward to being called names for remotely liking it.

KB: Bobby Valentine.

In the other corner, a man who has intentionally listened to 2012 releases from Eve 6 and P.O.D….Dan Lyons!

Dan Lyons: Hey, everyone.  Yes, I have listened to Eve 6’s 2012 release Speak in Code (actually not bad) and P.O.D.’s Murdered Love (actually bad), as well as Motion City Soundtrack’s Go (actually pretty good), and Smash Mouth’s Magic (actually, I’m embarrassed for them because this was just awful).  I’ve been going through all of the albums of artists that I listen to or have listened to, even a little bit, that have been released in 2012 and rating them.  I should have a series ready for Kevin’s fine blog here at the end of the year, so look out for that.

KB: I can confirm that our entire staff is excited about that.  And in another other corner…a metalhead who places a song by The Corrs among his all-time favorites…Dan Kaplan!

Dan Kaplan:  I may be a metalhead, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to hot chicks with Irish accents and big cans that can play a mean fiddle.  Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t cite my enjoyment of Chris Cornell’s Scream, Kev.  And Brewer, don’t count my chickens just yet.  You may end up being surprised by my “big-picture” assessment at the end of the day.

KB: Welcome, gentlemen.  Let’s start with…wait, you liked Scream, Dan?…never mind, let’s move on…this is a really long sentence now…let’s start with what your expectations were of The 2nd Law.  You’re all Muse fans, I take it…but this is something different, a more electronic- and dubstep-based record that the band’s admitted was influenced in parts by Skrillex (gasp!).  You’ve all heard it by now, but take me back to before the album if you can…what’d you expect from The 2nd Law?

DK: Frankly, I didn’t expect much–certainly not after hearing the song “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” in the album’s preview trailer. I believe in a previous discussion, I called this song “the musical equivalent of going ass to mouth.” That should give you a basic idea of how much I was looking forward to this album.

I’m curious to note what these guys would think of it.

DL: I think I was vaguely aware that a new Muse album was in the works, but it wasn’t until late August that I began to hear rumblings about it. The first real exposure I had was hearing “Madness” come on 101.9 FM (R.I.P.) when I was heading down to the Jersey Shore (R.I.P.) with some friends. After hearing the “Ma-ma-ma-ma-mad-ma-mad-ma-mad-mad” refrain a few times, I mentioned to my friends Eric and Alex that it sounded a lot like Matthew Bellamy of Muse. It turned out I was right in that regard.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the song at first (it’s since grown on me), and it sounded more like a pet project than something that would be a major entry into the band’s discography.  I read up more about the album, and the Skrillex nods scared me a bit.  Looking back, I was probably expecting that to be even more of the album than it actually is, which I’m personally thankful for.

AB: After a bunch of fantastic albums from Muse, I had no reason to expect nothing but great things for The 2nd Law.  After hearing “Survival” for the first time, I got pretty scared because of how much negative press it was getting outside of the music world.  The idea that the album itself could be as bad as “Survival” was very frightening to me.  Once I could stream the album online on iTunes before it came out, I wasn’t worried any longer.

KB: Well, full disclaimer from me as well…I don’t go into albums hoping to dislike them. But I had a nervous feeling about this one. Warranted? Let’s find out! *rings bell of finding out*

DL: WUB WUB WUB

KB:

1. Supremacy

Well, this isn’t going to be subtle. That’s clear right from the start of the album’s leadoff track, with Kashmir-esque strings over a bouncing guitar riff. And then Matt Bellamy’s voice comes in, and…well, all the exciting things kinda stop. This is a little boring.
Then we get to the chorus to find out that Matt Bellamy does a great Matt Bellamy parody. I believe the lyric is “your suuuuuu-prema-cayahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

So this is sorta boring…and then, what’s that at 4:01? Is that our first Queen rip-off of the album? I believe so! Just listen to those Brian M…er, Bellamy guitars.

I could do without this one. Bellamy’s vocal effing around is mildly interesting, but comes across as just stupid.

DL: I think that “Supremacy” is a pretty appropriate first track for this album.  Like The 2nd Law as a whole, it fluctuates between highs and lows, it’s quite boring in the middle, and it seems to lack a real sense of cohesion and identity. After a loud, grandiose guitar-led opener, the music dies down and Bellamy goes into a relatively uninteresting first verse before rocketing things up for the high-pitched, computer-aided chorus. Then there’s a bland, classic rock-esque solo before the big Muse sound that we all remember rears its head once again. The song ends with more Bellamy shrieks, which reminded me a bit of Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s stylings as vocalist for The Mars Volta. The lyrical work here is fairly unexciting all around, and the musical accompaniment is all over the place. There are definite hints of the last Muse album, The Resistance, at times here; it has a similar orchestral feel to that album. “Supremacy” isn’t a bad song, it’s just kind of unfocused, and the song’s highlights fade away before they can really settle in and lay the groundwork for something great.

DK: I’ll kick things off by saying that I find both of the previous arguments on “Supremacy’s” flaws entirely valid. That said, I wound up liking this song much more than I expected–and, perhaps, more than it deserves. In my head, it’s a theme song to a James Bond movie that never was made–a third-rate cousin to “Live and Let Die,” you might say. (I mean this not in terms of quality, but rather song structure–rises and falls, powerful parts and less powerful parts, etc.) The string parts do absolute wonders, adding Muse-tastic bombast to the song’s most enjoyable sections. Things do quiet down a little in the middle – maybe too much – but I like the pickup at the end. I don’t necessarily see it as a Queen rip-off, either; harmonized guitars are as much Brian May as they are Thin Lizzy or Iron Maiden. It’s cheesy, but it’s not as blatant as “Survival.” At the end of the day, I like the note “Supremacy” kicks the album off on – it’s not perfect, but it’s a good attention-catching rocker.

DL: I could definitely hear some James Bond-i-ness in “Supremacy”. Good call by you, Kaplan.

KB: So could someone else on YouTube, apparently!

Quick pre-Brewer note aside: Would this be a better or worse Bond song than “Another Way To Die”?

DK: Better. I hate “Another Way to Die.”

DL: I think aside from the intro where “Another Way to Die” kind of panders to being Bonds-y, it’s not that Bonds-y, so Supremacy kind of wins it in its subconsciousness.

AB: I love Jack White…and I thought Another Way to Die was extremely appropriate for that particular Bond film…

KB: This might have been a more appropriate song for Quantum of Solace

AB: That aside…this song reminds me a little of “Stockholm Syndrome” off of Absolution. It starts off with the same intensity, but instead of keeping it up, the energy just dies. Given the pacing of the album, I agree with all of you. This really sets the table for what the album is going to be as a whole. Even though I did enjoy this album a lot, I could have done without this song. It seems like the production and writing was rushed. It doesn’t have a clear direction as to what the song is supposed to be…and as the opening song, you can’t have that. I’m not going to lie – when I heard this song lead off, I got really worried that I was walking into a letdown.

And in regards to the whole “ripping off” notion, Brown, John Frusciante literally played a solo of Jimi Hendrix in “Dani California” and most people thought it was awesome. I don’t really like to think of it as “ripping off”. I prefer thinking about it as more of a starting point that artists are using. If something works, then keep doing it. Clearly, you can’t just write songs that are exactly the same, but it’s damn near impossible to not rip off someone. Given how much rock music has been written and how limited a guitar actually is in this genre, I don’t think a lot of offense should be taken.

KB: Brewer, my problem isn’t so much that the guitars are Queen ripoffs…it’s that they sound EXACTLY like Queen. Frusciante still sounds like a Chili Pepper in his solos, even if they are Hendrix-inspired.  Anyway, we’re ranging here from “mildly good” to “not all that good” on “Supremacy”, it sounds. Methinks a wider gap is approaching for our next song. Lyons, take us f-f-f-f-f-f-f-for-forward.

Dan Lyons:

2. Madness

As I mentioned earlier, Madness was my first exposure to The 2nd Law (somehow, despite watching plenty of Olympic coverage, I avoided/ignored “Survival”), and at first, it was pretty jarring. A large part of why I love Muse is how big their sound is…the intricate, blaring guitar parts, the thumping bass grooves, Bellamy’s lyrics which he belts out in a way that makes whatever he’s singing seem way more important and worthy of attention than anything else that could possibly be going on. Muse is a musical marvel of a band, something we don’t see as much of in music today, so I really was taken aback when I first heard “Madness”.  It lacks so much of what made me fall in love when I listened to Absolution for the first time.

That being said, it is undeniably catchy, and after a few listens it began to grow on me. The 80’s Queen influences which permeate the album in between instances of Skrillex-influenced wub-wub-wub-iness work for the most part, even if they seem a bit forced, and the song picks up momentum once it hits the middle and Bellamy really starts to do his thing, unlike “Supremacy”. This is far from Muse’s best work – hell, I don’t even know that it’d be in a Top 20 Muse song list for me.  But it’s definitely one of the better songs on this album once you get over how different it is than what we’ve come to expect from the band.

Dan Kaplan: My first listen put me in more or less the same boat as Lyons – in fact, “jarring” is probably the perfect way to describe how I felt about “Madness”. I was actually slightly ashamed to think of classic reinvention albums like Achtung Baby or Kid A while listening to this one – even if only in the context of how much “Madness” seemed, at least initially, to fail in comparison to them. For a couple of albums, Muse had shown signs of moving into a slightly dancier direction – you could hear it on songs like “Undisclosed Desires” on The Resistance, and even as far back as stuff like “Starlight” from Black Holes and Revelations – but this was just too…sudden. After taking things one step at a time, Muse suddenly skipped about six upward, and it just felt wrong.

Matt Bellamy: not a fan of bow ties.

That said, after giving it a second chance (okay, let’s be honest, it took fifth and sixth chances), I came around on this one. Despite initially slagging off the almost gospel-like quality in the verses, I’m thinking about it now and they strike me as some of the strongest assets of “Madness”. I can’t say the solo’s grown on me at all, but then again, I’ve never been crazy about solos that sound like they’re being farted out of a guitar. However, the chorus immediately following it is easily the song’s – and one of the album’s – strongest assets. It’s 90 seconds of utter cathartic brilliance, more than enough to pull “Madness” over into my ‘Like’ column.

Kevin Brown: It’s actually in my ‘Poke’ column.  (Nobody will understand this joke in a year.  Actually, does anyone understand it now?  Shut up, Kevin.  Go, Brewer.)

Alex Brewer:  This song returns Muse fans back to the music we thought we were going to hear. A very space-like song (if that makes sense), I think “Madness” is actually one of the best songs on the album. Musically, it has all the elements you would want from a Muse song. Sweet guitar solo? Check. Awesome bass part? Check. Impressive vocals? Check. Harmonies? Spot on at the end.

I wouldn’t call the music dancier, Kaplan – just more alternative. Beginning with their last album, Muse has clearly transitioned from a more modern-type rock to a more alternative style of rock. That’s why after my first time listening to this album all the way through, I was impressed, not disappointed. We all saw this type of album coming – it’s just different in its specifics than what we ever thought we’d hear. Clearly, the bass is dance-y, but I don’t think that’s the genre they were really going for. I would compare this song more to U2 than a dance song.

All that said, “Madness” is one of the defining songs of the album, with lyrics full of paranoia and instrumentals that make up for any vocal shortfalls. I’m not going to lie – when the single came out, I looped this song in my car for about a week. I don’t want to go as far as to say this is my favorite on the record…but it’s pretty damn close.

KB: Oh, I hate to do this. How I so badly want to be the contrarian here, and yet…I can’t be. I kinda dig this song.

I’m on record as not having liked “Madness” the first time around, as evidenced by this blog’s previous review where I gave the song a C- grade. That was a bit harsh. I still don’t love “Madness”, and it’s certainly not near the top of any individual Muse list I’d make (unless the list is “Muse songs with the word ‘Madness’ in them”), but it’s a good tune. It’s catchy as all hell and it features some inspired vocal work by Bellamy.

That being said, I wish “Madness” was a little more interesting in its first half. The song comes out a bit flat, and it’s underlying “m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m” sound doesn’t serve it too many favors, especially when followed by a “wub-wub-wub”. (Side note: what the HELL did I just type?)

My official typist for the last two sentences.

But “Madness” improves as it goes along, and by the time the guitar kicks in (finally!), it picks way the hell up. It’s good enough for me to retroactively knock it up a couple of letter grades.

So we’re largely in agreement on the first two songs. Hey, The 2nd Law‘s off to a solid start! Maybe it’s not that bad!  “Panic Station” is next, and so are you, Dan Kaplan.

DK:

3. Panic Station

I really shouldn’t like Panic Station as much as I do. If you take it at face value, it’s sort of like if Queen combined “Another One Bites the Dust” with their entire, dance-oriented Hot Space album – you know, the one that hardly anyone remembers aside from “Under Pressure” because the band was so far out of their element as to be rendered almost unrecognizable. Shit, there’s even a strong hint of the intro bass line from “Dust” in the main riff of “Panic Station.”

But where going funky and dance-y may have spelled doom for Queen, Muse handles it terrifically here. “Panic Station” sounds less like the sonic cliff-jump I touched on previously and more like the next logical step in the band’s evolution following The Resistance. It injects just the right amount of pop undertone – best reflected by the brass section over dubs in the chorus, which for reasons unknown almost makes me think of the Ghostbusters soundtrack – to create a sound that’s both recognizably Muse AND more fun than Muse has ever been before.

To me, “Panic Station” isn’t just the best song on the album, but also an easy shortlist entry for the best rock song of the year.

AB: Yeah, Dan, this is a dance song. Can’t argue that at all.

But I’m very torn on “Panic Station”. The instrumentals are great. The beat is great. The vocals are pretty cool. I just always have this weird feeling when I listen to it. Something isn’t right…and I can’t place it. I want to like it so much…but I just can’t bring myself to do that. That’s not to say “Panic Station” is a bad song, it’s just not my style. Maybe it’s all the counting…

“Panic Station” seems like an extension of “Undisclosed Desires”. Same sort of bass/funky feel, yet still a rock song. The problem is that “Desires” didn’t cross a weird and layered line. This song did. I wish I had more to add, but I really can’t think of anything else to say about this track. I certainly don’t hate it, it just felt forced.

Brown?

KB: Wait, is it my turn? Sorry, I’m too busy jumping around like an idiot in my basement. I’d wager I look dumber than that Psy fellow right about now. (I hate that I know that guy’s name, even if it is only three letters and he has the most-watched music video in YouTube history.)

By the way, Steve Nash has the best version of that dance down for sure.

Anyway, this song is a freaking blast. It sounds like Red Hot Chili Peppers mixed with Queen mixed with the guitar solo from Muse’s own “Hysteria” mixed with other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. The Chili Peppers stuff is the most surprising – there’s some definite Frusciante and Flea-esque riffing going on here, and it’s terrific.

“Panic Station” gets exponentially better from listen to listen, too. At first listen, it’s a kinda-dumb Queen ripoff…at second listen, it’s a little more funkier than that…at third listen, I’m dancing up out of the driver’s seat. When was the last time Muse had this much fun? It’s the best song on the album by a country mile.

DL: I’ll echo many of the sentiments that Dan and Kevin have already put forth – “Panic Station” is just a ton of fun, possibly the most ‘fun’ any Muse song has ever been, and easily my favorite track on the album. This is why I never begrudge bands for doing ‘different’ things. I might not be a huge fan of The 2nd Law as a whole, but “Panic Station” deviates from the Muse norm as much as any other song on this album (aside from maybe the dub-heavy tracks at the end), and it came out great. It’s a definite nod to Queen, as many of the other songs on the album are, but through some powerful vocals and an awesome bass groove it retains a lot of the familiarity that some of the other songs lose. I think that “Panic Station” is the most fully realized song out of what Muse was aiming for with this album, and they really knocked it out of the park. It’s been stuck in my head for almost two months now, and I’m completely okay with that.

KB: Since we keep bringing it up, let’s see who can finish this analogy the best…Muse: Queen as ?:?.

DK: Hate to say this, but…Muse: Queen as Oasis: Beatles.

KB: Blasphemy! You son of a…yeah, you’re right. Damn.

DL: I don’t know. I think Oasis did the Beatles thing throughout their whole career. Muse just seems to be going through a Queen phase.

DK: We’ll call it late-Muse: Queen as late-Oasis: Beatles, since Oasis’ Beatles emulation was also stronger as it went along.

I’m actually somewhat surprised this isn’t a real thing.

DL: Muse : Queen :: The Gaslight Anthem : Bruce Springsteen

KB: I don’t know The Gaslight Anthem that well…but I’d say substitute The Killers, post-Hot Fuss for them and you’ve got yourself an analogy.  In fact, I think Brandon Flowers has gone in some Total Recall-esque machine (I don’t know how this works, I’m just going off of the Colin Farrell trailer) and convinced himself that he is Bruce. (Spoiler alert: he isn’t.)

DL: In terms of The Gaslight Anthem…both groups hail from New Jersey, and on their most recent albums those influences have been kicked up tenfold to near-imitation, for better or worse.

AB: I’m not usually good with analogies…but I would say God : Christianity :: Trent Reznor : Music…does that qualify? (Shameless Reznor plug complete.)

DK: Congrats, Alex, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

KB: Kevin Brown: Snark :: Alex Brewer: Hyperbole

DK: This thread: moving along smoothly :: Mitt Romney: our next president.  ZING!

KB: Well-played. On that note, let’s see if we can even get 47% of the album done tonight. Brewer, you lead us off on “Prelude” and “Survival”. (Yes, we’re counting “Prelude” as part of the next song.)

Alex Brewer:

4/5. Prelude/Survival

I actually first heard “Survival” during the local sports talk show in town, since it was the theme song for the 2012 Summer Olympics.  The hosts introduced it as “The Worst Song Ever Written” as they proceeded to play the verse and chorus.  Now, I’ll admit the lyrics are less than desirable.  Clearly, Matt didn’t play sports in high school.

I will say this, though – let’s not automatically dismiss this song as the title given to it by my co-workers.  As lame as the first 90 seconds are, this song actually kicks some serious guitar-solo butt.  I actually like what Muse did with the background vocals and I (admittedly) like the concept of the song.

Now, remember, I tend to find lyrics the LEAST influential factor when I review and judge a piece of music.  Call it a cherry on top if you will.  Therefore, the fact that these lyrics were written by a newborn child does not make this song a pile of suck in my eyes.  Take out the lame lyrics/vocal pattern and you have yourselves a mini-version of “Knights of Cydonia” (don’t kill me for this comment, I am merely comparing the solo sections).

I didn’t hate this song as much as others did.  I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of crap for saying this song doesn’t suck, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Kevin Brown: Well, “Prelude” is an excellent introduction to “Survival”.  So, there’s that.

…do I have to talk about “Survival” now? Sigh. I suppose I do. If you mixed together Queen, The Mars Volta, Broadway musicals and Monty Python, and then created a parody song of this concoction – voila! It’s “Survival”!

Muse’s new background singers.

Musically, “Survival” is impressive in ways – but it’s also ear-splittingly annoying. There’s a difference between a rock anthem and an overblown, overproduced piece of shrill nonsense. That’s the difference between “Survival” and, well, “Knights of Cydonia”. And the lyrics may have been submitted by Jacques Rogge, for all I know.

“Survival” is the 2012 musical equivalent of The Dark Knight Rises, without all the hype – it aims for an absurdly epic scale than it cannot possibly reach, and it’s terribly written. (Rises was much better, though, because it had Anne Hathaway and a Bat-Plane.)

Dan Lyons: “Prelude” is fine, I guess. If anything, a ‘prelude’ is sort of wasted on “Survival”, which I’m not sure needs or deserves an introduction. I’m not going to waste too much of Kevin’s valuable web space on a 58-second instrumental.

“Survival”…ummm…it’s so corny, you guys. The lyrics are just sports cliche piled on sports cliche, with some crazy voices in the background. Seriously, Bellamy, “race, it’s a race, and I’m gonna win, and I’m gonna win”? It’s just really weak stuff. The instrumentals are all right, but nothing special when you consider what the band has done in the past. The guitar work around the 3:30-4:00 mark is by far the best part of the song, but even that is sullied by the barks of “fight” and “win”, and then Bellamy’s squeal at the end just caps the whole 4+ minute “meh”-fest off.

Do I think this is some major affront to music? No, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, and there are some decent musical aspects hidden away, but the lyrics are so lazily done and uninspiring, coming from a band that is generally anything but, that I do share the massive disappointment.

AB: I will say this. I agree that there is some disappointment, but I think it’s too high of an expectation to expect the very best from every band at every moment. And as bad as this song may have been…it did break into the rock charts here in the United States…so even at their worst, Muse still produces songs people listen to.

KB: Nickelback.

Actual still from the video of a #1 song.  (Probably, at least, since I’m not watching to confirm or deny this.)

AB: Trust me. I get it. I’m just saying that at their WORST, Muse is worth a listen.

DL: Bellamy could make an album of mouth-based fart noises and I’d probably listen a few times, and I’d definitely think it was better than anything Nickelback’s done ever.

AB: Accurate.

KB: Can somebody wake up Kaplan now?

Dan Kaplan: For those of you reading this blog post that did not participate in our thread, the gap between Lyons’ response and my own was more than 24 hours. I spent a good part of that time trying to come up with some thoughts on “Prelude/Survival.” In the end, I couldn’t.

Truth be told, I’ve only made it through this song (these songs?) in its (their?) entirety two or three times. I left them both off my iPod and routinely skip them on Spotify. At the end of the day, the aforementioned slightly redeeming qualities (guitar work, freneticism at the end, etc.) aren’t enough to dig “Survival” out of the liquid pool of Queen fellatio that it dove into. Grade me as an incomplete if you wish, but I’m stopping here. I don’t want to talk about these anymore.

KB: You know, call me crazy, but that sounds like a solid “F” to me.  Let’s move on before somebody hurts somebody else, shall we?

DL: DAN WANTS TO HURT SOOOOMEBOOOOOOODAY

KB: I’VE BEEN TYPIN’ AROUND
ALWAYS LOOKIN’ DOWN
AT ALL MY KEYS

6. “Follow Me”

Unfortunately, this isn’t a cover of Genesis’ “Follow You Follow Me”. So there’s a shot of disappointment right off the bat.

And speaking of disappointment – this song is also terrible! It’s a plodding, lyrical abomination for 1:45, and then, what’s that…oh, no! Not the Skrillex! AHHHHH!

So, the song turns into a semi-electronic puddle of mudd…er, slop, for some time after that, and the lyrics don’t get one iota better. Here’s the chorus, in case you don’t believe me:

“Follow me.
You can follow me.
I will keep you safe,
Follow me.
You can follow me,
I will protect you.”

Matthew Bellamy did write these lyrics – I guess he just wrote them at age five, and he found the napkin from a kindergarten lunch period up in the attic one day and decided to make a song out of it.

This is my least favorite song on the album so far.

DL: For whatever reason, I can never remember the songs on this album between Survival and before the two 2nd Law songs. I just paused an episode of Sherlock to re-listen to “Follow Me”, and that wasn’t the wisest decision I’ve ever made. I don’t know that I dislike it as much as Kevin does, but this song has so little substance, there isn’t much to say. The instrumentals are nothing special, the lyrics…they’re just not a strong effort at all. Two songs in a row that most inspired fifth-graders could have penned. Poor, Matthew. Poor.

I think my favorite part of this song is that shrill yell by Bellamy after the final refrain which kind of reminds me of Bono for some reason, and also lets me know that the song is ending, so I can get on to better music, assuming that Aaron Lewis of Staind’s 2012 effort “The Road” doesn’t pop up on shuffle.

KB: Hey, Lyons – has it been awhile since you last listened to Staind?

DL: I see what you did there.

DK: +14 Shades of Grey

#StaindAlbumPuns

DL: (Aaron Lewis’ “The Road” is my least favorite album of the year. Aaron Lewis shouldn’t do country. Most people shouldn’t do country.)

DK: Anyway, Follow Me…

DL: If you insist.

KB: Into the darkness?

DK: “Follow Me” reminds me of a line from one of my favorite sitcoms of all time, Coupling. A character called Jeff explains that he has a way of turning regular movies into porno films by fast-forwarding through them until he gets to nude scenes. In a way, this is what I’ve done with The 2nd Law–turned it into a tolerable album by fast-forwarding through all the forgettable dreck. Namely, songs like these.

I don’t take issue with the lyrical content of this song as much as Lyons and Brown. I’ve never really been one for Bellamy’s lyrics–one can only tolerate so many songs about apocalypse and conspiracy and “no one’s gonna take me alive” before it all starts to go in one ear and out the other. That said, this song fails on the level on which I DO enjoy Muse–the musical side. It’s meandering and, frankly, a bit stupid. I believe I’ve made my thoughts on the band’s forays into dubstep sounds perfectly clear by now, and “Follow Me” only amplifies them. Classic filler track in the truest sense of the term, and another that I plan to ignore again henceforth.

KB: Based on the handful of episodes I watched from your Season 1 DVDs, Kaplan, excellent “Coupling” reference!  Was Jeff the one played by Commodore Norrington?

DK: Nah, you’re thinking of Steve.

KB:  Tough luck.  By the way, there are video tributes on YouTube to Commodore Norrington set to Linkin Park’s “Numb” and “Leave Out All The Rest”, along with Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts The Most”?  All on the first page of results for “commodore norrington”.  Just thought I’d point that out.  YouTube is the best.

AB: So, “Follow Me”…this is my second favorite track on the album, and it’s not even close. When you decide to mash two genres together, it’s either terrible or great. Again, I recognize the lyrics on this album (as a whole) are very underwhelming, but this song lives up to the expectation I had for the album. The subtle active snyth is in the beginning brings you back to older Muse. The dubstep is a new, creative step the band tries out (for the better, in my opinion.

Now…I am a Skrillex apologist and general dubstep fan. Clearly Brown is going to hate this, and I’m going to love this. I very much enjoyed this track, and play this one on repeat almost as much as my favorite track (to be revealed later).

KB: We’ll end Part 1 on that moment of suspense.  Part II: coming to a blog near you some time next week, or at least at some point in 2013.  Godspeed.

——

Dan Lyons (@Dan_Lyons76) is a contributing writer for “Kevin Reviews Things” and proud but occasionally traitorous native Nutmegger from Stamford, CT and a 2012 Syracuse University grad. He enjoys a wide range of sports, all kinds of non-Nickelback rock music, and of course, his friend Baxter here.

Dan Kaplan (@dkaps89) is a contributing writer for “Kevin Reviews Things” and a 2011 graduate of Syracuse University. A Reading, PA, native, he’s now based in Brooklyn and occupies his time, for the moment, as a public relations professional. The blog’s resident “metal guy” is currently working on a reboot of his own blog, List Planet–tentatively scheduled for early 2013.

Alex Brewer (@ACBrew) is a contributing writer for “Kevin Reviews Things”. Hailing from the lost and forgotten state of Maine, Alex enjoys music no one would think he listens to, Boston sports teams, and Starcraft 2 a little too much. 

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevinnbrown.

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