Much as I hate to admit it, I’m suspiciously drawn to some songs on the recent Muse album, The Resistance. I get that it’s totally counter-intuitive to philosophise about pretentious music all day and then go home to a loud, outré, sloganeering chunk of symphonic rock, complete with time-signature changes, wholly self-indulgent guitar solos, and violently operatic vocals. But I really am beginning to love bits of it, at least.
Slap bang in the middle of the album lies the seven-minute long, multi-part leviathan that is “Unnatural Selection”. It opens with Bellamy phoning in a drawl over the kind of church organ that hasn’t been acceptable since Origin of Symmetry. From this innocuous opening emerges a slithering beast of a riff that recalls “New Born”. This somewhat pummelling passage eventually morphs into a rather baroque chorus that invokes memories of Bach, albeit interwoven with some background chanting resembling a football-terrace chant. Eventually, the song collapses into a gloriously decadent waltz, replete with woozy guitar licks and a Hammond organ that has somehow escaped out of a 50s horror film. When that passage is fully spent (and my, Bellamy has a lot of nonspecific wailing to get through), the baroque riff breaks through once more for a final showdown, this time with ten times more multi-tracked vocal harmonies and half a dozen more guitar overdubs.
And you know what? It’s marvellous.
Sometimes, Muse play up their theatricality until it just sounds ridiculous, but when they get it right, every disparate element of their schtick can fall into place perfectly, with a careless swagger than ploughs through any idea you may have had of decency. The lyrics may be meaningless nonsense, but when Bellamy is busy waking up the residents of Lake Como with his pair of bellows, it’s hard not to admit that he sounds like he’s having a good time. And, more to the p0int, that you’d be a bit of a killjoy not to have a good time yourself.