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Muse

Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros.)

Muse's fourth album should finally obliterate the urge to compare the British trio to Radiohead's paranoid little brothers. Like all good fourth albums, Black Holes answers the fundamental question so many groups avoid: Why keep doing this? The reason is Muse's mainstream ambitions, which are more akin to U2 than to Thom Yorke and company (check the surprisingly funky crossover move, "Supermassive Black Hole"). But it's the gorgeous "Starlight" that proves the band has the songwriting ability to be truly supermassive. The happy part of all this, however, is that Matt Bellamy and his two bandmates have made their most commercial album without sacrificing the prog-inspired wankery and weirdness of yore. From the opener, "Take a Bow," Bellamy remains obsessed with the conspiracies that (allegedly) bedevil us all. And the final three songs might be Muse's finest hour. Fusing (Freddie) Mercury, Morricone, metal and mariachi brass, the suite culminates with the awesome "Knights of Cydonia," six minutes of operatically ridiculous bliss that's as far from Kid A as one gets.

 
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