Matthew Bellamy has a little electronic box on the bottom of his guitar; this box is responsible for all of the crazy futuristic sounds we’ve come to expect from Muse.
In "The 2nd Law", released September 28, Bellamy unscrews the box and throws the guitar away. He and his box take center stage as Muse attempts to officiate an arranged marriage between Queen and Skrillex.
Freddie Mercury is rolling over in his grave.
With the 2009 release of "The Resistance", Muse departed from strictly alternative rock—made unique by Bellamy’s dynamic vocal range—and moved toward a more electronic sound with a slightly bizarre political message against globalization.
"The 2nd Law" embodies this transition, while luring you in. The opening track, “Supremacy,” seems to have a similar sound to "The Resistance"; it's five minutes of guitar with electronic effects layered on in a tasteful, subtle way. Bellamy reminds us that he can hit the high notes. It is noticeably different than early-2000’s Muse, but still enjoyable.
Next comes “Madness,” the second track, and then you realize that this album is something different. Aside from a 10-second guitar solo, the song is entirely electronic. Sampled vocals, a synthetic beat and the all-too-familiar wub wub of dubstep pervade Muse’s first foray into electronica.
Still, Muse seems hesitant. Bellamy appears to be unable to decide whether or not he is ready to leave the realm of Queen and his beloved falsetto for the comparatively new sound of electronica and dubstep. The album alternates between the darker rock sound of the previous albums and the over-produced, electronic dubstep they—for whatever reason, perhaps solely because they can—have decided to experiment with.
As "The Second Law" is the band’s sixth studio album, Muse is allowed to try something different. They’ve won a whole slew of awards, sold out Wembley Stadium, along with selling over 15 million albums, and even wrote the official song of the 2012 Olympics (video below). They may not capture the powerful, introspective lyrics or artsy, imaginative sounds of other bands, but there is no doubt that they are rock stars.
"The 2nd Law" is not necessarily an album that you will strictly love or hate. Depending on your taste, you might find yourself liking some of the more electronic tracks—or even the entirely electronic ones, like “Unsustainable” (below)—or you might find yourself drawn to the rock tracks more typical of what we’ve come to expect from Muse.
The album is gimmicky. The main reaction I think most people will have after listening to it is: "Why is Muse making dubstep now?" But everything about it is still quintessentially Muse. They are popular because they are fun and high-energy and things like that should never be examined too closely. "The 2nd Law" maintains that quality. And if you don’t like a track, don’t feel bad about skipping it because the next one will be something completely different.