Again and again, we find ourselves in a timeless dilemma in which the only route of escape is through submission. This dilemma in question is not one of a negative demeanor, yet have you ever felt constrained by its repetition? When it repeats, repeats, and repeats? Does your subconscious even take heed and make necessary adjustments to alleviate it?
Wait, what am I talking about?
Welcome back, all. By the featured image, you can probably tell this week’s serving is going to be unique. (As of now…) While we may have covered music in the past, it was to its application to storytelling instead of to itself and itself only. Music is a great tool in enhancing a narrative and even telling its own alongside your favourite stories, but what happens when it must stand on its own? Can a song tell its own tale, to be heard time and time again?
This is what I was referring to in the initial vague paragraph. On the radio, how many times can one listen to a song before they realize that its aspect of pizzazz is then absent? We submit ourselves to what we like to listen to and do not stray far from comfort, whether it be a particular genre or artist. (I hope it’s not the latter) As your friendly blogger, I will now give a recommendation to an artist and album that I find stellar.
Now, Muse is not an unfamiliar group. The British alternate-rock trio debuted with their first album Showbiz in 1999, and have gone on to produce seven albums to last year’s Drones, and there is no sign of them slowing down. If you are familiar with the band, you already know what this post is going to be about. It’s all in the featured image.
For this shorter post, I want to take a look at what I consider to be their best album: 2003’s Absolution. My favourite Muse song is not on it; that would go to Knights of Cydonia from Black Holes and Revelations (2006). Matter of fact, it does not even have my favourite chunk of one of their albums; that would go to the first half of Origin of Symmetry (2001). So, what does Absolution have going for it? To simply put, the entire work is outstanding and varied, yet it keeps a shared tone, theme and experimentation that prevents it from feeling like a scramble of artistic visions.
The album is described as a way to understand emotions, which comes across by the album cover (which is the featured image) and song titles alone. Apocalypse Please, Falling Away with You, and Stockholm Syndrome all act in reference to emotional states, with both positive and negative sides to them. “Perhaps it’s for the best, yet I still feel a sense of uncertainty” is a great way to describe some of the songs on this album. It’s a musical of whims, feels, and a hardcore symphony of rock that lures you in with instrumentals alone, but that’s only the surface of the album.
Yes, this is the image for the song Butterflies and Hurricanes, which is one of the more aptly named ones on Absolution. It possesses a raw strength throughout with its hopeless undertones followed by an explosion of drums and a piano that precisely drive it forward. When things are completely over, you should still have the power to spit in fate’s eyes and push on through. The piano solo in the centre is a powerful intermission, serving as a sweeping and dramatic way to reinvigorate romance into the song’s plot.
Oh yes, another compliment to this album: it includes love as an integral and central theme. Many musicians use this to the point of overuse and the core of their identity, which is one reason why I find much music to be dull and tasteless. Love is the name of the song, and how many variations of love can be heard before such a great theme becomes a battered cliché?
Muse uses love to push forward their ideas and meld with other themes, many of which are found throughout this album. It is also used sparingly, so it is not overused or come across as too sappy. Sadly, this is one area where I feel they have fallen, especially in their latest album Drones. (Albeit, it is still an awesome album)
Getting back to the album, another amazing song is Hysteria. Need I say more? Joking aside, just listen to its opening. The bass riff will prey your attention, and the lyrics lurk right behind it. This is a song many can relate to; has something been just out of your reach (not literally) and you must have it now? Does this addiction crawl and pierce into your skin to where you need it now? Perhaps the song can be interpreted as an overwhelming desire for unadulterated love, due to how bombastic and desperate, it is in nature. Whatever the case, strong lyrics and strong themes go together to create a very strong song.
There are many stellar songs in Absolution, yet this retrospect/review of sorts is for you to go out and explore. Maybe you will agree with me, yet perhaps you won’t. That’s fine, but I want to end this off with one more song.
Time is Running Out is a song about the end. Poof, that’s it. What emotion would you feel in the final moments preceding death? While such a song should be a depressing ballad upon the first inspection, why would you be collected in living your last moments? With each passing moment, your identity, faith, and relationships would spin in a whirl of scrambling thoughts. Perhaps it may not be about death, but about another sort of end that you may experience. And also, that bassline and snapping is an excellent hook to how flustered this song is, yet it never becomes a complete mess.
(EDIT 11/29/16: I apologize for not including this when this post was created, but please take a listen to Absolution right here)
Well, that is all for today. Perhaps this wasn’t exactly a short post, but I hope it is satisfactory and something new for this blog. Posts like these are formatted more so for retrospect rather than analysis, although traces of it still exist here. I also apologize for the lack of a post on the previous weekend, but I had activities relating to Cadets once again. And no, not for six weeks like last time.
At least I don’t have the thoughts of a dying atheist! (Sorry, that was terrible)