Muse is back with a brand new album. The 2nd Law has been widely received as a clear statement: The band is stepping out of its comfort zone.
There's a dubstep track ("The Second Law: Unsustainable," inspired by a Skrillex show the band attended), a flighty "EDM" song ("Madness") and a generous dose of Queen-like elements. These are all characterizations the critics agree on, but that's about where the consensus ends.
Though the album has generally received positive reviews (Billboard notched it at 92/100), a number of critics found the project -- which is inspired by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (here's Wikipedia for you) -- a bit overwrought. That's basically why EW hit The 2nd Law with a C+.
A sampling of reviews is available in the gallery below. Check out the excerpts and click the text to be taken to the full reviews. The 2nd Law hits stores in the States on Tuesday.
NME Gives It An 8/10
<a href="http://www.nme.com/reviews/muse/13730">And in the final act, the album doesn’t need the one true dubstep moment that comes on ‘Unsustainable’. By this point, though, you’ve forgiven Muse, because even though ‘The 2nd Law’ doesn’t scale the 10/10 superhuman heights of ‘Black Holes & Revelations’, it’s their most human record since 2003's ‘Absolution’. It’s not inspiring enough to make us heed the warnings and change the world forever. But what Muse have done is re-establish themselves as a respected British institution by being fun. Exactly what the Olympic Games taught this country to do, too. </a>
Billboard Gives It A 92
<a href="http://www.billboard.com/new-releases#/new-releases/muse-the-2nd-law-track-by-track-review-1007965072.story">"The 2nd Law" is blatantly frontloaded, but when that sin is committed entirely through songs Muse will be playing live for the rest of their careers-huge, gaudy pieces of orchestration-it's hard to complain about something as piddling as a less-remarkable back end. Muse fans will have a hard time being disappointed by <em>The</em> <em>2nd Law</em>, and rookies have a new perfect place to jump in. </a>
The Telegraph Slaps A 4/5 On It
<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopmusic/9571590/Muse-The-2nd-Law-CD-review.html">And the more I listened to this record, the more I figured out how Muse have managed to sell 15 million records. They hurl together like meteorites lots of big, chunkily familiar influences from across a galaxy of genres, then set them spinning in an ever-so-slightly off kilter orbit for a few giddy minutes.</a>
Consequence Of Sound Goes With 3/5
<a href="http://consequenceofsound.net/2012/10/album-review-muse-the-2nd-law/">If Muse somehow became giants that played neon-colored Ferrari’s as instruments, their sound still wouldn’t be as big as they’d always dreamed. Barring freak magic accidents, the trio will have to continue with Plan A: giving every fiber of their collective being to become the new Queen even as they recognize the sheer impossibility. In spirit, their sixth album, The 2nd Law, is another step in that journey, combining over-the-top rock anthems with more linear EDM influences. Yet the 13 tracks lack some focus and cohesion, weakening what should be a limitless, quasi-spiritual slice of rock and roll transcendence.</a>
Newsday Says It's A B+
<a href="http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/music/muse-s-the-2nd-law-review-a-wild-musical-ride-1.4052191">Muse makes the genre-jumping on <em>The 2nd Law</em> work by keeping pop melodies at the album's core. All the stacked musical and scientific theories and jagged combinations sound on the verge of toppling, at times, but never do -- quite an artistic feat.</a>
The Guardian Says It's A 3/5
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/sep/30/muse-the-2nd-law-review">Bassist Chris Wolstenholme says of The 2nd Law that "this time, we really went the whole hog." Presumably this relegates the super-massive airborne rock piggery of their previous efforts to mere bacon sandwich status. Bellamy is not blind to the contradictions of his band's attempts continually to ramp the ludicrousness up to 11; endless growth is, of course, unsustainable. But for now they remain pretty comfortable with the idea of obscene over-inflation. So should we.</a>
EW Was Less Impressed (C+)
<a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20633626,00.html">When Muse first broke nearly a decade ago, they were a lean, streamlined goth-glam act. Today, frontman Matt Bellamy has multiple gold records, a movie-star baby mama (Kate Hudson), and enough sonic pyro to power a closing ceremony. The more-is-more problems of ''Survival'' keep compounding themselves on the band's sixth album, which often adds a symphony when a simple drum break would do. </a>
Also on HuffPost: