one can't listen to muse without hearing bends-era radiohead, so it's necessary to start there. but for all the familiar grandeur and gloom, muse's other catharsis-rock influences, like queen, slade, and even black sabbath, provide the band with a dazzling, heart-on-their-sleeves theatricality. always threatening to layer on another falsetto from singer matt bellamy, or conjure more guitar crunch from the ether, absolution is downright baroque in parts, like a rufus wainwright-penned rock opera fantasy. yes, the record is completely unoriginal. but when these guys let it rip, there's no doubt they have the fever. "stockholm syndrome," for one, could only be produced by true believers with a lust for power chord drama, full of angst, envy, and the bitter end of it all. if you wish a certain thom yorke-led outfit from oxford had made another record or two before evolving into minor-key art rockers, muse carry the torch for another few miles, gloriously and tragically unaware that they're running in circles.