Despite being released in the fall of 2003 in the UK and overseas, in the US Absolution did not come out until 2004, marking this year as its 10th anniversary. Absolution was the third studio release for Muse, and it marked much bigger ambitions, with a more cohesive overall vision. The band’s feature length 1999 debut, Showbiz, featured strong tracks such as “Sunburn,” “Muscle Museum” and the title track, but was more of a foreshadowing of what Muse was capable of than a truly strong release in and of itself. The 2001 follow up, Origin of Symmetry, was met with much more critical and commercial success, but still lacked the last punch to differentiate itself from other alt rock of the late 90s and early 2000s that Absolution later brought.
It can be said that Absolution finally made Muse a name in music, drawing from deeper concepts lyrically and drawing in a more mature, dark tone musically. The album was well received, charting at number 1 in the UK and bringing a top 10 UK single in for the band. Due to the ability to focus and follow a concise theme on this album, Muse became known as one of the bands that still wrote albums and not just singles in the rising era of MP3 downloads.
Muse themselves are often spoken about in extremes, being met either with dislike or great love, and are noted for having some of the most devoted fans in modern music. However, Absolution brings a variety of tracks that may find appeal with a greater diversity of music fans. “Time Is Running Out” and “Hysteria” are energetic, driving rock anthems; “Sing for Absolution” and “Stockholm Syndrome” are more melodic alternative tracks that bring the band the frequent comparisons to Radiohead. An often forgotten, yet enjoyable, song is “Endlessly,” which may find an audience with those who overlook Muse due to their harder edges and is a refreshing breath of lyricism and slowed pace on an overall rocking album.
If you have previously not given Muse much attention in your musical perusals, Absolution is very well worth checking out. The album has thus far aged quite well and still sounds fresh, even compared to Muse’s more progressive recent releases.