Muse, 'Survival' - review
Imagine: it's 4.45, you're just about to clock off work, the taste of that much needed drink almost on your lips. Enter your boss. "YOU!" he says (let's imagine you've got the sort of identikit job they have in Hollywood blockbusters, where the CEO doesn't know anyone's name, but regularly rampages through the office, terrorising the staff). "I need the lyrics to an Olympics song, and I need them by 5pm. Otherwise we're all fucked and you're fired!"
He hands you a napkin, and a pen. You start sweating, and know you have failed already. You start to write - something, anything - but the pressure has gotten to you, and all you can muster is: "Race, life’s a race... And I am gonna win!"
It doesn't get better. You've used 'race' and 'win' in the first line. More panic. "Whatever it takes/You won’t pull ahead/I’ll keep up the pace" Oh shit, you think: I am done.
Unless, of course, you are Muse. In which case, you simply sit back knowing 90% of the world would call your morning poo a work of genius, let alone this work of utter majesty, and wait for your payrise.
OK, let's be serious: this Muse Olympic tune. The lyrics are crap. REALLY crap. Like, of the same level as if they'd been asked to write a song for the National Baking Awards, and rhymed "yeast" with "dough". But the lyrics are not the big problem. After all, there are plenty of great songs with shite, obvious lyrics.
No, the problem is the unmistakeable sense of a band with nowhere left to go. You thought they had hit a ceiling with 'Knights Of Cydonia'; then came 'Exogenesis'; and where to from there? Here. To a song that, while bearing all the "outrageous" and "over the top" and "operatic" characteristics we've come to expect of The Greatest Live Band On Earth, simply feels impossibly by numbers. The minute people mention "Queen backing vox!" you start to worry, because that's what they said about 'Eurasia', and after a few weeks of giggling, all but the most ardent of fans had gone: "Meh."
From this, it's clear that Muse HAVE hit a ceiling now. Let's hope this much nattered about dubstep direction comes to fruition, because Lordy, an album full of retreads like this ain't gonna be fun. I mean, there's no guarantee DubstepMuse would be any good either, but at it would at least be a bit more engaging.
How about an acoustic album, in touch with actual human feelings, rather than another diatribe against the unspecific evils of "They"? Or a classical album? Or... just anything but this: the very definition of By Numbers.
And before you start, yes I know "yeast" and "dough" don't rhyme. My boss was on my ass, OK?
Muse, 'Survival' - review