It would have been better, and more grand and crazy, as Muse are prone to be, to book-end their sixth album with the two-part title track.

So put the Cylon-powered dubstep track The 2nd Law: Unsustainable - that acted as a kind of promotional trailer in the lead-up to the release of the album - at the beginning of the record and then the pulsing, politically-infused oonst of The 2nd Law: Isolated System as a fitting end.

Although it's a bit late now, since the album is out tomorrow after much hype and hoopla, given the clamour that always seems to build up among devout Muse fans and followers of lead man Matt Bellamy. But anyway, just a suggestion, Matt.

As it is, the opening pomp and stomp of Supremacy is a typically dramatic way to start proceedings. But one thing is clear, Muse sound less musically restless than they ever have before, which makes it all a little, well, normal.


Maybe it's because leading man and head creative Bellamy is a daddy these days and in a long-term relationship with actress Kate Hudson. Though that sounds as though it's had some rocky moments, which he writes about in Madness, a heartfelt serenade with lovely, liquorice-like oscillations.

So it's a different Muse - and it's on standout Animals where they are at their new-sounding best. It's a song that escalates over the course of four minutes, with a simmering, swinging beat and a hint of Carlos Santana guitar before breaking out halfway through for the most thrilling two minutes of the whole record.

The band's Olympic song, Survival, sounds better immersed among its own kind. As a sports anthem it wasn't that great because you want something more straightforward, like the Foo Fighters rather than Queen doing The Omen theme.

And then there are the copycat moments, like Panic Station, which - initially at least - sounds like INXS' Suicide Blonde, then at various times Stevie Wonder's Superstition and even Michael Jackson's Thriller when Bellamy bellows "it is chaos, it defies imagination". And on Follow Me, which admittedly is an impassioned, rousing song, Bellamy's high, quavering holler could be mistaken for Bono.

Explorers is in the beautiful-but-dreary realm, and bass player Chris Wolstenholme's quota of two songs, Save Me and Liquid State (about his battle with booze), could have been halved.

So while there are many moments when it whips you up into a strutting and posturing frenzy, which is what you want Muse to do, and there is no denying the band's ambition to try something different, The 2nd Law leaves you wanting a few more wild and over-the-top Plug In Baby and Hysteria moments.

Stars: 3/5
Verdict: It's Muse, but not as we know it.
Click here to buy Muse's new album The 2nd Law.