Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Silliest and Best

Friends, rejoice: Muse’s “leaked” song from their forthcoming album, The Resistance, has finally been found. “United States of Eurasia” was released in the form of six USB sticks, which were distributed around the world for obsessive fans to track down. The finished article, now available on YouTube, is every bit as grandiose as we’ve come to expect from England’s foremost apocalyptic glam-rock trio. It also playfully invokes the band’s influences through some pretty explicit musical quotations. There’s the harmonious crescendo from Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” the imperious brass theme from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (“The Slave Children’s Crusade”) and, finally, a neat rendition of Chopin’s “Nocturne in E-flat Major.” And those are just the ones I identified on my first listen.

Full disclosure: I was an obsessive Muse fan myself, back in the early years of this millennium (when I was 16/17, you know). But, as my tastes matured, I came to regard the band as a horrifying embarrassment—they became a symptom of a teenage identity I wanted badly to leave behind: angsty, histrionic, effete…hell, take any word that’s used to malign society’s most idiotic age-group; that’s Muse to a T.*

And yet, as more time has passed, I’ve developed a sort of sneaking appreciation of the band. As they’ve become more overtly kitschy and silly, so has it become easier to like them; just check out the kung-fu, sci-fi, spaghetti western (not just western; spaghetti western) video for “Knights of Cydonia.” That’s some truly sublime nonsense, particularly the slapping-to-passionate-lovemaking sequence, which I think is just about the neatest little send-up of cinematic sexual politics you’ll find in any music video. (Not to mention, oh God, the unicorn money-shot!)

It’s true that they’re best in small doses, but that’s true of all kinds of good things: recreational drugs, pornography, sugar, giving blood…you name it. So I’m actually kind of looking forward to The Resistance, particularly as it apparently boasts some overblown orchestral arrangements. I won’t pay for it, mind. Now that would be embarrassing.

*Samples from Muse’s AllMusic “moods” list: dramatic, paranoid, brooding, volatile, angst-ridden, aggressive.