After spending years as the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist of stadium rock band Muse, Matt Bellamy has finally released a collection of solo work compiled of covers of famous songs and reinterpretations of the band’s earlier work, as well as some lose songs he’s released throughout the recent years. Being that Muse is one of my all time favorite bands since when I was a kid, as well as Bellamy having a great influence on my music compositions since I began, I was obviously going to pick up the limited RSD drop of this record. Now that I’ve given “Cryosleep” a listen, however, I can’t say I enjoy most of what we got.
If we’re looking at composition and production, there isn’t much to complain about as “Cryosleep” is mostly made up of songs on the better end of Muse’s catalogue and covers of classic songs “Fever” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. The main change is that these songs are stripped back to mostly the bare essentials, with a guitar or piano and Matt’s signature tenor voice. These songs prove that if you get rid of all the extra flair that one expects from Muse songs you still something that’s well written and structured. The only songs that really take up more production, as well as the only original pieces on here, are two synth heavy instrumental cuts used during the “Simulation Theory” tour, a track Bellamy composed for Game of Thrones, and an orchestral piece he released at the beginning of the pandemic. These tracks are well produced, show his signature flair of grandiosity, and showcase Matt’s great ability at arrangements, and they just so happen to feature lyrics that aren’t as corny as they have been on some of his most recent work. So what’s holding “Cryosleep” back? Well, and I’m surprised to say this, it’s Bellamy’s vocals.
I don’t see a lot of people talk about this, but Matt Bellamy’s vocals have gotten worse overtime. There was definitely a change in how his vocals sounded at one point, but that just happens with age - sometime around the mid 2010’s, Matt’s vocal ability changed for the worse (I heard someone theorize it got the way by him singing with laryngitis in 2014). Pretty much all of his lower notes sound like he’s singing through his nose, his vibrato is a lot shakier than it used to be, and it feels like he is constantly scooping his voice to find the correct note. It’s a lot easier for Matt to hide this on Muse’s highly produced rock songs, but this album is mostly fairly bare bones, his voice is right in front of the mix, loud and dry, and there’s nothing to hide any issues with his voice. There’s also the fact that Matt sings pretty much everything like a melodramatic rock star, which works fine when he’s make stadium rock music, but sounds outright silly on top of minimal acoustic instrumentation. I don’t need to explain why you shouldn’t sing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as though you have a wall of amplifiers behind you.
Maybe if this album was released when Matt’s voice was stronger this would have been a better listen, this could have effectively put those criticisms to rest that Bellamy relies to heavily on over the top instrumentation and that his music is still great with just a guitar or a piano. But with the state that Matt Bellamy’s voice is at now, “Cryosleep” is defined by worse vocal performances of songs I’ve heard much better on older Muse albums.
The “Bow-Bow-Bow” part on “Take a Bow” made me laugh tho, glad to hear Matt still has his sense of humor.