This Is Fake DIY 2006 - First Listen: Muse - Black Holes And Revelations
First Listen: Muse - Black Holes And Revelations
It's seven o'clock on a Tuesday evening and DIY is stood facing the end of a world. With Muse. Again.
The fact we're wearing some ludicrously expensive headphones in an overly posh London restaurant means little. It's 'Black Holes And Revelations' unveiling, and you could cut the tension with a knife (or at least a few of the numerous cocktails and bottles of wine littering the place - slightly sozzled Ed). First listen time? You bet.
Muse aren't starting things with a bang, or even a steady march. Instead they've plugged into an old Spectrum ZX and have gone retro computer-pop. Things all go a bit Queen, the entire universe seems to explode, and the lyrics get broody. "You'll burn in hell for your sins", apparently. Bloody hell!
Funked up with handclaps, you'd be forgiven for choking on your digestive when we tell you that 'Starlight's hook line reminds us a bit of Coldplay. It's certainly not MOR, however; guitars come in, the wiggly beeps of 'Origin Of Symmetry' make a welcome return. It's bleedin' massive.
Is this Millionaire? Muse turn space funk in their lead single. Already tearing up the airwaves, it sounds even more like the pure pop genius it undoubtedly is within the confines of the album. Hardcore fans scared off by the single take note: it'll all make sense when you hear it in context.
DIY is at war. Half of us think 'Map Of The Problematique' should be the new theme music to The Bill, the other half thinks it's The Clothes Show. Electro bass mixes with piano, layered harmonies and something close to Eurotrance to make something that, on first listen, is either madness or genius. The last ten seconds, however, could well be the best thing Muse have ever done. Honestly.
The first quiet one proper, Matt goes crooner. Stripped down to some Twenties/Thirties style vibe, complete with ultrasonic, unnerving backing vocals, 'Soldier's Poem' probably wears a smoking jacket and scares small children at night. Genuinely haunting.
If we said Bellamy had written a song based upon the last ten minutes of Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves, you'd tell us we've gone mad. Our first thought? Will there be bagpipes. Seriously. There aren't, but we wouldn't have been surprised. An ethereal march and the odd floaty harmony sound like the myst clearing at the end of the battle that ends the world. We're talking epic here. There's chunky bits, lyrics that could be a paranoid Westlife if we didn't know better ("Together we're invincible"), and a bass line that sounds like 'Time Is Running Out' on a sugar rush at times. The fact it actually works is more remarkable than the lot.
Knight Rider. It sounds like bloody Knight Rider, or at least for the first ten seconds. Then it all goes metal; massive riffs, harmonies that sound like Queen and a whole chorus of vocals combine to sound like Metallica going to the opera.
Remember the Franz Ferdinand comments? We'd assume this is what they're on about. Funked up, fuzzed out guitars pull out one of those arch art-rock riffs that have Kapranos all over them, albeit if he was covering 'On A Rope'. If it wasn't for the rubbish title, we'd say this was a nailed on single, but then it's not like that will stop Muse.
Spanish guitars make their first appearance, turn electric, are joined by an orchestra of strings and go post apocalyptic. The last flamenco at the end of time? Quite possibly.
Certainly this album's 'Unintended', genetically spliced into a Mexican western, it's Zorro without any of the doughnuts. Crashing down by the end, it's understated, but really bloody good.
At one point, Knights Of Cydonia reminds DIY of Erasure. Not for long mind, as monk like chanting and a falsetto that could deafen a dog at the other end of the earth kick in. Backed by a brass section and what sounds like a whole choir of battery operated Clangers, it's the first ever space western. A shootout at high noon between R2D2 and the Milkybar Kid, before the end it all cuts out and Muse go more Queen than ever before. An AC/DC sized riff arrives and the world promptly ends. Blimey!
'Black Holes And Revelations' is certainly an album, rather than a collection of songs. On the first listen it sounds impressive, but it'll take more than one to work out exactly how good it is. The biggest thing Muse have done to date, they're hiding from nobody. The signs look more than promising.