After 2004's U.S. breakthrough success for U.K. favorite Muse, the band's second album, 2001's Origin of Symmetry, finally earns its stateside release. Last yeasr's Absolution and major performances across the country won legions of American fans for the band that was the prestigious closing act at London's V2004 Festival. Now these new fans can experience an earlier Muse with Origin of Symmetry.
Pomposity, bombast, pretension and prog-rock: they're four crimes that blight the landscape of modern music and "i"Origin Of Symmetry--the second record by Teignmouth, U.K. angst-rockers Muse--is guilty of every single one. But the truly astonishing thing about this record is the way it twists every one of these cardinal musical sins into spectacularly silly and starkly individual strengths. Where their debut album "i"Showbiz was rightly dismissed as little more than Radiohead-lite, here Muse sound defiantly like their own band: on "New Born", they're torn somewhere between the purity of front man Matt Bellamy's angelic vocal tones and the corruption of a huge, dirty, distorted bass riff that electrifies the sound into crackling life; on the fraught, operatic "Bliss", they sound like an unholy--but very welcome--cross between synth-heavy Krautrock legends Tangerine Dream and youthful choirboy angst-peddlers JJ72; and even a wonderfully dippy take on the Nina Simone-popularised jazz standard "Feeling Good" is carried off with the requisite deadpan countenance. Bellamy's impassioned voice, in particular, is on spectacular form, soaring skywards until it cracks into a beautiful falsetto reminiscent of Jeff Buckley's greatest vocal moments. So gloriously overblown, it deserves to be huge--Origin Of Symmetry is a fascinating, flamboyant and satisfyingly individual album. --Louis Pattison