Muse, Black Holes and Revelations

Radiohead were the most obvious spearheads of the late 2000s push towards electronica-flavoured art rock, but this album has a noteworthy genre exposition all its own. The ethereal arpeggios (and political venom) of "Take A Bow" give way to meaty crashing guitars and percussion, I hear shades of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" in "Map of the Problematique" and I dig the headbang in "Assassin." Unfortunately the originality is intermittent: "Starlight" got its share of airplay, and deservedly so, but it's a pop single and nowhere near the artistic level of the album's best (ditto for "Supermassive Black Hole"); similarly, "Invincible" is pretty but forgettable, though "Soldier's Poem" mostly escapes the ordinary with thoughtfully tart lyrics and some ironically rich harmony. Likewise, the western flavour of the closer tracks ("Hoodoo" and "Knights of Cydonia") comes more across as a stunt than stylistic innovation. But the menacing vibe is compelling and they get points for trying something different when they do, because when it works it really does. (Content: no concerns.)