In Devon, no-one can hear you scream. Muse‘s story is the familiar tale of late-teen provincial hell and, hailing from the dead-end resort of Teignmouth, it’s no wonder they’ve fashioned themselves as champions of black-clad outsider chic. Apathy is not an option, hanging around the common room looking a bit mysterious is.
Their debut LP is a deadly serious affair then, and inevitably draws comparisons to [a]Radiohead[/a]. John Leckie (‘The Bends’) produces, serrated guitars rule and happiness is discarded as a premise only suitable for emotional retards.
The problem though, after setting up such an academic concept, is that ‘Showbiz’ is not as clever as they think it is. True, it never mopes as morosely as Thom Yorke‘s lot, but then it doesn’t always have the ability to lift the soul either. So ‘Unintended’ and the title track are overwrought, prone to excruciatingly bad pseudo poetry, and barely escape the tag of being a gothier Strangelove.
But if they sometimes go too far, Muse‘s high sense of drama makes perfect sense elsewhere. Mixing [a]Radiohead[/a] with the odd flounce of early Suede, or the wailing algebraic lunacy of Mansun, they can produce mini epics. ‘Uno’ is an Addams Family flamenco, jaggedly wallowing in unrequited love, just one small step away from an injunction for stalking, while ‘Cave’ and ‘Fillip’ are superior takes on the well-worn path of brooding guitar pop.
In view of all this, that title is the closest they get to a joke – because it seems certain Muse would rather peel back emotional scabs than actually go whoring down the Met Bar. It’s not for the frivolous, but with a little fine tuning, escape from an oblivious West Country seems increasingly likely.