Muse The Resistance (Warner Bros) Time was when a Muse album was not so much listened to as navigated through. Peaks of guitar bombast, screes of falsetto vocals and boulders of booming bass had to be negotiated before the listener could relax among trickling piano ballads and the soothing breathy vocals of soft-rock album fillers. The Resistance, however, has flattened the landscape a little, with fewer of the towering guitar solos and histrionics and more of the undulating synth patterns introduced on the mega-selling Black Holes and Revelations. Anyone who witnessed the Devon three-piece (below) at their Hong Kong gig in 2007 will understand the power of their sound. Their seventh CD, however, appears intent on debunking that sonic reputation in favour of a mellowed, mature groove. Opener The Uprising sets the album's stock: Dr Who-like synths backed by crunching bass and Glitterband glam-funk rhythms give way to Mat Bellamy's soaring vocals and lyrics that wallow in the band's long-time favourite subjects: paranoia, dislocation and alienation. With few of the searing guitar breaks and crashing intros of previous albums, The Resistance dabbles with formats and textures quite unlike anything the band have tackled before. For instance, Undisclosed Desires has a Kraftwerkian hip hop feel while United States of Eurasia takes in Let it Be-era Beatles tunesmithery before hurtling into an Arabian-tinged candidate for the next James Bond theme. Only MK Ultra and Unnatural Selection stick to the well-worn loud-quiet, squeal-boom path of old. The biggest let-down is Guiding Light, which sounds like Motley Crue - it's that bad.