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October 4, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Named for mankind’s struggle against the second law of thermodynamics, which describes the waste of energy in a closed system, Muse’s newest album is a definite attempt to turn up the energy in its sound. In almost every track, frontman Matthew Bellamy’s haunting voice is intensified by the addition of the rumble of synthesizers, screeches of Skrillex-like dubstep and even funk-inspired beats. But amid the aggression, there is a hint of soft rock characteristic of Muse’s styling, such as on The 2nd Law’s lead single, “Madness.” Refusing to fall into a pattern, Muse has managed to deliver yet another collection of unexpected, anything-goes progressive rock.
Van Morrison seems to have gone back to his jazziest roots for the creation of his 35th studio album. The catchy, feel-good melodies and the soft croon of horns on these 10 new tracks are enough to draw the audience in, but the serious subject matter of the lyrics is what keeps them listening. Covering topics such as the slavery of capitalism on “The End of the Rainbow” and the love of material wealth over God on “If In Money We Trust,” Morrison couples some of his hardest-hitting lyrics with the smooth jazz that fans have grown to love.