Black Holes and Revelations – Muse

Released July 3, 2006 the band’s fourth album was a critical and commercial success. It was a departure in style from their previous albums and thusly topped the charts in several countries. They had five singles in the UK and three on the Modern Rock charts in the U.S. The album is certified Platinum in several countries.

Jason: Muse. I am not too familiar with them although I did recognize a song or two from this album. Have you listened to this in its entirety before? 

Brad: This is one of my favorite albums of the 2000s. I’ve played them so much around you over the years. How do you not know them? I also remember when their last album “Simulation Theory” came out last year we had a whole discussion about it because they use a marching band on it.

Jason: Yes, I do love “Pressure (feat. UCLA Bruins Marching Band)” from the album Simulation Theory (Super Deluxe). So, I didn’t say I didn’t know them, I said I wasn’t too familiar. What I mean was that I couldn’t name a Muse song but I know who they are. This album is a little all over the place for me. It’s gets pretty heavy in the second half.

Brad: I love their sound. It is like Radiohead on steroids. I think every song on this album is great. I especially love the first half. 

Jason: I really like the first half. There are some really good songs up front, like “Supermassive Black Hole”, “Maps of the Problematique” and “Take a Bow”. They lose me at “Assassin” though.

Brad: That song is great. What don’t you like about it?

Jason: It’s too heavy on guitar and drums for me.

Brad: I need that heaviness every once in a while. Like a jolt of energy. I saw them play most of these songs at Lollapalooza in 2007. They are such a great band to see live. They really know how to put on a big arena/stadium rock show. 

Jason: Have you seen them more than once? 

Brad: I’ve only seen them twice actually. Not sure why I haven’t seen them more often. 

Jason: I bet their shows are lively. What do you like about this album? Any favorite songs?

Brad: I love that they can switch from a really big sound of a song like “Supermassive Black Hole” to a really quiet lullaby like “Soldier’s Poem”. I don’t know much about sound engineering but I love the overall sound quality of the entire album. It has a rock sound but includes some electronic layers that make it sound futuristic. My favorite songs on this one change over the years but I really love “Starlight”. 

Jason: This album is about “Exo-Politics” which is about problems with society in a future space colony more-or-less so I think their sound fits. They cited Depeche Mode as an influence on this album and it’s very evident in “Map of the Problematique” which is my favorite on this album for that reason.

Brad: That’s a great song and you really can hear the influence of DM on it, which is another reason Depeche Mode should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (vote now). By the way, we can partially thank Madonna for Muse. 

Jason: Yes they most certainly should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t even get me started on that. So, Madonna discovered Muse?

Brad: Yeah, Madonna signed them to her Maverick label in the late 90s.

Jason: Is there any song on this album you skip over do you like them all?

Brad: I like them all. I don’t usually skip any but I think I have listened to the first half a lot more than the second half. This is their 4th album. Their 3rd album “Absolution” is pretty great too. I’ve liked a lot of the songs on every album since but their 3rd & 4th albums are my favorites so far. 

Jason: It says this album changed their sound a bit from their first two. How so?

Brad: I’m not sure how to describe it but I don’t think they fully figured out their trademark sound until the 3rd album. The first two albums were a little generic. Then they really blew up in a big way with this album (their 4th). Now they play arenas, stadiums and festivals around the world on a regular basis.

Jason: So the days of seeing them at like, Riviera are long gone. What grade do you give this album?

Brad: I’d give this an A-. How about you?

Jason: Hrm. I don’t like the back half at all. Or I should say, as much. But there are some good songs on the front. So I will go with… C+.

Brad: Hmmmm.

Jason: Well they can’t all be winners for me. I expect this to repeat itself in the reverse when we get to Billy Joel. 

Brad: Or maybe even the next one on this list?

Jason: Ha. Most likely. Stay tuned.

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Below is the scratch-off artwork from the 100 Bucket List poster.