Muse Black Holes & Revelations

Over the course of their brief but prolific career, Muse have been redefining and re-imagining what Britpop is and what it can be. The trio’s progression and evolution continues with their fourth album. Augmenting their powerful guitar, bass and drums backline with sequenced synth arpeggios and electronic stabs, the disc’s first two tracks sound like nothing too extraordinary. It’s on track three, the lead-off UK single "Supermassive Black Hole,” where Matthew Bellamy delivers vocals with a Prince-like falsetto, and the following "Map of the Problematique,” which sounds like U2 covering a New Order dance mix, where you know this is not your ordinary Muse record. They return to their more traditional sound enough so that by the time we get to album closer, the rollicking six-minute "Knights of Cydonia,” the genre clash that is so jarring on first listen begins to make sense. At this point, Bellamy and company are so comfortable in their collective skin they can mix and match styles that might otherwise turn long-time fans off. Black Holes & Revelations is diverse, daring and different — but well worth the effort. (Warner)