Showbiz is the 1999 debut album of one of today’s biggest names in alternative rock and even mainstream: Muse. Although not as complex as their later music, this album already features the band’s trademarks: light pop sounds mixed with hard rock passages, well-thought-out rhythms and guitar/piano player Matthew Bellamy’s high and emotional vocals.
Although the band are actually a classic power trio with guitar, bass and drums, the opener Sunburn starts off with a piano line going into a rather radio-friendly and soft sound. Yet this song shows the typical Muse transition as it suddenly bursts into a hard rocking track featuring very good bass lines from Christopher Wolstenholme. His often synthesized bass sound gives the music an electronic touch along with a heavy sound, which gives all songs a very interesting background combined with Dominic Howard’s solid drumming. Cave is a good example of their rhythmical work.
On the other side Bellamy tends to over-emote his singing, reminding me of Freddie Mercury – as well as some song passages of the album remind me of Queen. But this doesn’t ruin the songs. It’s quite the contrary as the song structures themselves tend to be dramatic, too.
Another thing is that the music is heavily enhanced by the use of many background noises, feedback and other sequenced sounds, creating a wall of sound which becomes very obvious due to the distinct dynamical changes within most of the songs. On this album you won’t find any classic power trio songs the likes of Cream and all the bands that followed have wrought. Instead Muse create their own progressive style.
Showbiz is an album with lots of great songs and interesting ideas but the following releases have shown what the band really are capable of. Nevertheless it’s a great debut!
written by Wolfgang Merx