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Origin Of Symmetry
Essentially a brilliantly produced heavy metal record with lots of strange moments, Origin Of Symmetry will undoubtedly propel Muse further upwards in their quest for stardom
Olaf Tyaransen, 21 Jun 2001
Following on from the success of 1999’s Showbiz (which has now sold over half a million copies worldwide), the second long player from much-acclaimed Devon trio Muse opens as it means to continue – i.e. operatically, noisily and more than a little pretentiously. But we won’t hold that against them. Pop stars are supposed to be pretentious.
A sinister keyboard – the phantom of the opera playing Tubular Bells – begins proceedings on album opener and current single ‘New Born’, and after ten seconds or so, Matthew Bellamy starts to sing: “Look into the world/look into yourself/stretch it like a birth squeeze/for love for what you hide/For bitterness inside/Is growing like the new born.” Then the guitars kick in and your eardrums explode. Yikes! What do they put in the water down Teignmouth way?
Still in their early twenties, Muse are fairly unashamed about musically chord-checking their influences. Sonic shades of Nirvana, Pumpkins and Radiohead abound on this record (perhaps no surprise given that John Leckie did some production, alongside main man David ‘deus’ Bottrill), in amidst the heavy synths, disco beats and operatic waltzes. Think Bach meets The Bends, with Jean Michel Jarre conducting and Lemmy stage-crashing – and you’re nearly there.
Sometimes it all gets a little too cartoonish to take seriously but there are still some great moments here. The manic howl of their biggest hit to date ‘Plug In Baby’ you may already know. That’s followed by ‘Citizen Erased’, which is basically their not-bad stab at doing a ‘Paranoid Android’. It segues nicely into ‘Micro Cuts’ and next thing you know they’re doing a Nina Simone cover.
Essentially a brilliantly produced heavy metal record with lots of strange moments, Origin Of Symmetry will undoubtedly propel Muse further upwards in their quest for stardom. Personally, I’m still not convinced but, now that they’ve hopefully cleared out all the angst and finished with the musical nods and tributes, maybe album three will be the one that shows them to be serious artists rather than mere artisans.