It’s impossible to listen to Muse’s second U.S. release (and fourth album, overall) without thinking of Radiohead circa The Bends. And there’s nothing unusual about that; Thom Yorke and company have provided the blueprint for much of today’s art rock, from Coldplay to Paloalto. But whereas most Radiohead acolytes are pop groups at heart—recent arrival Keane being the most hook-centric example—this young English trio approaches its source material from the cranked-up perspective of a metal band (in an earlier incarnation, Muse called itself Gothic Plague—no kidding). This mindset results in 12 tracks of indefatigable grandstanding, as singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy shamelessly appropriates Yorke’s mannerisms amidst over-the-top riffs and piano arpeggios so heavy-handed they’d make Liberace blush—which is precisely what makes Absolution such a blast. On the addictive first single, “Time Is Running Out,” which crystallizes Muse’s approach, a propulsive fuzzed-out bass line borrowed from the Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another” provides a rock-steady foundation for Bellamy as he grandiloquently ascends the stairway to heaven. Why bother with The Darkness when we’ve got these showboats tickling the same guilty pleasures? Minus the dripping irony, of course.