Muse didn't set out to make the most gloriously ambitious album of their career. How could they have? The band who dreamt up Supermassive Black Hole, Knights Of Cydonia and the three-part Exogenesis symphony were already well-versed in going One Louder. Any wilder, any further out there, and Muse would risk incineration by a dwarf star of their own making.
But you don't become one of the biggest bands on this planet - in excess of 15 million albums sales worldwide, 5 MTV Europe Awards, 2 Brit Awards, 8 NME Awards, 5 Q Awards, 4 Kerrang Awards and winner of the Best Rock Album Grammy 2011; No 1 in 19 countries with 2009's The Resistance; filler of arena and stadia across the world - by sitting on your hands.
So when Muse approached the making of their sixth studio album, they wouldn't stint on the choirs, strings and horn sections. And be reassured: guitar-shredding, piano-thumping, orchestra-arranging, book-chewing, big-thinking Matt Bellamy, as the band's chief songwriter, didn't lower his sights from The Big Picture nor ignore The Precious Details. And nor were the trio afraid of giving space to a brilliant new element to their sound - songs written and sung by bass player Chris Wolstenholme.
But what the Devon-born band of schoolfriends did do different was this: they made things easy for themselves. For the first time since the dawn of their career in smalltown England 18 years ago, all three members were living in the same place during the making of an album. Domiciled in and around London, they block-booked a recording studio - Air - and came and went as they pleased.
This time, the only clock Muse had to beat was their own internal band rhythm. They had the days and weeks and space to experiment, explore ideas, rig up massive in-studio PA systems, hire in remixers, play with pedals, and (technical term alert!) fanny around to their hearts' content.
3. Panic Station
6. Follow Me
9. Big Freeze
10. Save Me
11. Liquid State
12. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
13. The 2nd Law: Isolated System