Muse – Origin of Symmetry

 

Today’s selection comes to us from across the pond, and take their moniker from a theory on the universe 1st proposed in the book Hyperspace.

Muse – Origin of Symmetry

Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Muse+Origin+Of+Symmetry/66797990

Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_Symmetry

Fun Fact: “Feeling Good” is a cover of a song written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse originally for the 1965 musical The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd. Bellamy decided to include it in the album because Nina Simone’s version of the song is a favorite of his mother’s.

 

Ali:

Muse – Origin of Symmetry

Preconceptions:
I actually quite like Muse. I’m slightly disappointed that they got a large following of tweens when Stephanie Meyer added them to the thanks sections of the Twilight Series and when Supermassive Black Hole was used during the baseball scene of the first movie. I think that had a lot to do with why that was the only scene I dug.

It also bugs the crap out of me that I agree with Meyer that Muse is really good to write to.

Mood:
I’m in a great mood! I’m laughing my ass off at the other reviewers hating a band that I quite enjoy.

After Listening:
The reverb and feedback is always overplayed with these guys. I think that’s why I will typically choose to listen to Dredg over them.

I dig the singer’s voice. I really do. I love that he’s not afraid to reach for high notes and have them sound like he’s getting his taint squeezed.

That being said… With every Muse album there are songs that I love and songs that can shove off. I do think that the composition of each song is compelling, but often their choice of instrument fails to showcase the actual talent of the songwriter.

If you have any argument as to how the composition isn’t impressive, I suggest you listen to the Vitamin String Quartet’s album “The String Quartet Tribute to Muse”. Actually, listen to all of their covers. A String Quartet covering rock and pop acts isn’t the most original idea anymore, but this group has the most prolific album collection.

Favorite track/tracks:
Hyper Music – After all of the incredibly grating fret rubbing finishes, I really enjoy the song.
Feeling Good – It’s a great cover, regardless of the feedback in it.

Least favorite track/tracks:
Space Dementia – It felt like they were trying to channel David Bowie and instead they channeled a dude at Burning Man who took so much LSD he THOUGHT he was David Bowie.

Overall (1-5 stars):  4

Josh:

Muse – Origin of Symmetry: 2 stars

Precon: I think they sing that “Victorious” song, which is overly grandiose and rhymes “control us” with “victorious.” They have a stylish name, and the singer likes his vibratto.

Favorite Track: Plug In Baby. There was a moment where I started to enjoy it.
Least Favorite: Couldn’t figure it out on one listen.

Oh man I can’t take this guy’s singing. Does he still jerk off when he sings live or is that only in the studio?
They kinda remind of Fuel, who I admittedly listened to during a period of musical desperation in high school.
This could be totally unfair, but these guys just seem artificial to me.
I never got this “Feeling Good” song. Why do so many people like it? I don’t dislike it, I just see it as a total non factor. No real hook or melody, tons of build up that doesn’t go anywhere. I didn’t know it was written for a musical, so that makes a little more sense. What doesn’t make sense is that it’s had such an afterlife. I know people love Nina Simone, but come on, this is not a complete song. And people always use it on American Idol like it’s some kind of vocal showcase. I don’t get it.
So I don’t really like these guys, but they’re not the worst. I might be able to take a song here and there on the radio. I’d rather not listen to a whole album again. It’s a lot of flimsy pomp.

Magic the Gathering Card: Illusions of Grandeur

Marissa:

Muse-Origin of Symmetry:

Preconceived Notions- This is my curiosity pick.  I can’t really remember what made me pick it, but I’ve heard the big singles from their other records.

As Listening: Well, this is worse than I expected and I apologize.  It’s like Queen and Liberace had a love child that they constantly dressed in feathered boas and reassured him that he was the best child in the world.  He was raised on a television regimen of Dark Shadows, Bonanza, and the original Battlestar Galactica.  Muse didn’t really like to eat food much, at least nothing besides carrots and tuna, sometimes together, sometimes separate.  Unfortunately, at school, all of the kids made fun of Muse for his Addams family backpack.  To make up for the tough school times, Queen and Liberace gave Muse a guitar and a piano on his 13th birthday, along with some My Chemical Romance records and just said, “Go to town, Darling.  You can’t do any wrong”.  Also, Uncle David (Bowie) came over a lot to babysit the child and would sing random spacey lullabies while Queen and Libs were out to the Opera.

I won’t be listening to this a second time through, and I don’t really care to go and see which songs are my least favorite.  So far the only one I kind of like was the first one, but at six minutes, it was pushing its luck anyway.

Also, I hate hearing singers take exaggerated breaths.  Either quit smoking, write less annoying (less lengthy) lyrics, or edit better.  Either way, I don’t want to feel like you’re running a marathon at the same time that you’re singing.  It makes me feel all anxious-like.

There are parts of Citizen Erased that I don’t hate, but then the random Tom Morello-inspired guitar kicks in. Oh and then it goes on for another 4 minutes. Oh my god, please stop the siren sound.  Please.

Yes, Virginia, we have a winner for least favorite song on an album of least favorite songs.  Dear “Micro Cuts”, if I never hear your screeching operatic attempts ever again, I’ll rest easier.  Disdainfully, Marissa.  At one point, the guitar makes a sound that reminds of what happens when R2-D2 gets electrocuted.

Oh, are those WINDCHIMES at the end of “Screenager”…is this alternate universe 1984?

Well, the cover song is the best part of this album.  And even then, part of it manages to be ruined by a bullhorn.  Literally, a bullhorn

Oh quit it with the organ already on the hilariously titled Megalomania, although I hate to say, I kind of like the zombie tango feel to the verses.  I mean if there was ever to be a remotely successful opera about zombies, I think Muse could put together something that at least had a fighting chance, before being ruined by Julie Taymor.  Hahhahahahhahaa that last organ note is HILARIOUS!

After Listening:
Oh god, well, I’m sorry kids.  I ruined everyone’s Thursday I’m sure.  I’m woman enough to admit when something I’ve picked bungles things up and this album is definitely a bungle.  It’s ostentatious and overindulgent and selfish to the point of lacking any kind of cohesion.  I would laugh and give it a higher score, if I didn’t feel so responsible.  In truth, I think I liked Queensryche more.  I mean this isn’t ICP, but it’s pretty upsetting.  There are some interesting bits, but nothing is ever done with them.  It’s like going to home depot and buying all of the right lumber and tools for a great treehouse with a rope ladder and all you end up doing is throwing an old, moth-eaten tarp over the lowest branch you can find. Anyway, hopefully everyone will be able to recover from this, although if you stop speaking to me, I understand. I’ve already stopped speaking to myself.

Favorite track: The cover, minus the bullhorn
Least Favorite: Everything else on the album plus the bullhorn

Overall: 1.2 (only because I think I gave ICP 1, I can’t help but give a comparative score)

Mike:

Preconceived Notions: I used to think these guys were a metal band, than I heard some of their stuff off of Black Holes and Revelations and had to adjust that line of thought pretty quickly.  It seemed like very choreographed pop, with a touch of rock.  It wasn’t terrible per say, I just didn’t gravitate toward it.

Let’s see what an earlier work in their catalogue provides…

After Listening: This sounds like Radiohead attempted an off Broadway musical and failed horribly.  There are very few musical choices on this record that make sense, and worse they don’t make sense in a bland, flat way – not a car wreck interesting way. Vocally, it’s an extreme annoyance- and this is coming from someone that likes Mike Patton’s solo voice stuff complete with feedback.  At least with Patton, or Freddie Mercury for that matter – each weird falsetto squeak has a context within the song, takes a new chance, or is transparently just something they enjoy. Matthew Bellamy’s deliveries on this record are whiny, souless, and in his falsetto moments nearly laughable – except that a laugh would give you a release and this record gives you nothing of the sort.  I feel bad lumping Mercury in here- but I have read that many Brits stupidly make some sort of connection between the two (Matthew & him). Musically these guys seem completely limited – every song follows a similar template of synth usually in a major key, accompanied by some “hard rock”’ distorted guitar, and then complete with random feedback or dissonance (there are precious few variations, but even these are by the book of lame – the acoustic guitar for example on Screenager – which ends up still backing a keyboard chorus of Bellamy’s aimless crooning).  In short when you combine the music and the vocals you get what feels like very manufactured melodrama – that even in its best moments elicits only annoyance out of you as an emotion. The rest of the time you feel as bored to death as whatever poor sob had to record the final mix of this wreck – so everything in the middle then?  Yeah. Great.

Another album not worth a track by track analysis…

Overall 1.112 I don’t remember being as offended by what I had heard off of Black Holes and Revelations as I was with these entries.  Maybe the band matured their sound a little by then, or maybe it was just a result of me never having been forced to listen to more than one track at a time.   In any case, this record is a bad record.  I read on the wiki of these guys that they pulled their name thusly:

The art teacher Samuel Theoun mentioned the word “Muses”. Bellamy then looked it up in the dictionary and decided to shorten it to “Muse.” It was also used because it was short and the members felt it looked good on a poster

And that’s exactly how this record feels: like teenagers that had to look up the word Muses.  Ok we want to make an art record….hmm…that means synths, and feedback, and dramatic vocals.   Check, check, check.  Only this record puts them together so juvenilely that it feels very forced, and very shallow.  It doesn’t take any of the chances that real artists are willing to take – it doesn’t play with dynamics, it doesn’t play with stereo imaging, and sure it has dissonance – put it’s slapped on there any old way.  So you don’t have a pop record, you don’t have a rock record, and you don’t have an art record in anything other than a label – a label that I can only assume was applied by critics too lazy to actually sit through all of the band’s deficiencies to note them.  I can’t say I blame them.

Paul:

Muse – Origin of Symmetry

Preconceptions: I don’t know much about these people except that they’ve become sort of popular. Is that correct? I think I wanted to know what the fuss was about a while back, so I checked out a youtube video of theirs–but I don’t remember what it sounded like, so it must not have made an impression on me. Let’s give this a spin… or a click… or whatever

After Listening: This guy is, umm, like really dramatic with his singing. I can only imagine the silly bologna crap—in the words of my grandma Jennie—he does during their live shows. I imagine it’s a lot of looking to the sky with balled fists and/or chest beating, or some such similar theatrics. In any case, his voice is indeed annoying at times… or probably most of the time. I can’t really deal with that constant sound of his loud inhaling right before he prepares for the next fit of melodramatic theater rock falsettoing and sometimes bellowing. Did anyone else notice that inhaling thing? Bottom line, he and his voice must go back to whatever planet he’s from. Yeah, that’s right, I sorta don’t think he’s an Earthling. I picture him on a different planet, in a land that resembles that of the Stardust Casino show Goddess from Showgirls—or at the very least, on Earth but in the year 2274, as Michael York’s singing sidekick in Logan’s Run. William H. Christ, would I be counting the days until he goes to Carrousel if I were there… sheesh!

But I digress, I actually think Muse would be ok with a different singer. The music was ok, and actually, at certain points I kind of dug some of the riffs and reverby kind of stuff. Even the silly, Dracula-esque organ on the final song was alright, I guess—but as a whole, Muse just ain’t my thang and just sort of blows.

P.S – I’m giving .05 extra points for naming one of the songs Space Dementia, because it reminds me of one of the most ridiculous moments of a ridiculous movie:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeUbrJ9uicA

Favorites: Hyper Music
Least: New Born

Overall: 2.005 Stars

Seth:

Preconceptions: Hrrrm, a limey band called Muse? Set shoephasers to “Gaze”.

After listening: I couldn’t see my shoes because my eyes were closed in pain.

Calliope: Feeling Good would be the worst song on a less annoying album. Here, it’s faux-torchiness is the best by being the least worst.
Melpomene: New Born, Space Dementia, Micro Cuts

Overall: Origin of Symmetry has all the worst audio production indulgences of later U2 with an even more grating singer. The vocals sound like three elderly cats stuck in a dishwasher, which was a clear challenge to Radiohead for the BRIT Award’s most annoying singer category (colloquially known as the Yoko). Musically, Muse sounds like a band that really liked Queen but didn’t see Freddie Mercury winking.

Rating: 1.2
Prelisten Guess: 2.9
Season to Date: 0.14

Extra Credit: Placebo – Sleeping With Ghosts http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Sleeping+With+Ghosts/141044

 

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.


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