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Muse | CD review | 2003

MUSE - Absolution EP (Taste / East West -22/09/03)

Review by Dawn

The talented Teignmouth trio have taken the sound they made their own on 2003's Origin of Symmetry LP to new levels and made an album which, although being unmistakeably Muse, also serves to prove that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.

For while the band's familiar orchestral extravagance remains, it's the more subtle songs such as Blackout which make the most impact; its delicate strings build teasingly to a New Born-style crescendo which lodges effortlessly in your brain and leaves you wondering why such intricate gems have been forced to sit alongside tracks as anonymous as the repetitive Sing For Absolution and album closer Ruled By Secrecy.

NME described recent release Stockholm Syndrome as 'the most grandiose rock single of the year', but while that may be true, it's far from Absolution's strongest track. If you can see past the sometimes pretentious titles and often needlessly overblown instrumentation, there are some stunning moments here, perhaps best demonstrated by new single Time is Running Out which displays Muse at their very best, striking a chord deep within you with their moving melody and Matt Bellamy's distinctive vocals. Because although their determination to 'push their aesthetic all the way' has served them well thus far with such glorious tracks as Plug In Baby and the aforementioned New Born, their precocious, overblown style is beginning to wear a little thin and their self-admitted 'cheek and grand foolishness' bringing them dangerously close to becoming a parody of themselves.

Bellamy's classical influences work far better when displaying themselves in less pompous ways such as the understated but beautiful Endlessly, and though Thoughts of a Dying Atheist and The Small Print could be seen as Muse-by-numbers, they both stand out as two of the album's strongest tracks because of their simplicity. It was always going to be tough to live up to the hype, but if you can forgive the few weak spots, this is an admirable attempt to do so. The good tracks far outweigh the weaker ones and leave the boys with plenty of possibilities for strong future singles.

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