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CD: Muse - Drones | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Muse - Drones

CD: Muse - Drones

Muse return to a more familiar landscape – a paranoid dystopian nightmare

Coming in stencil form to a garage wall near you soon

Almost a decade ago, I went to a disappointing festival in Holland. Driven to distraction by the crowd – a sixth-form disco stuck between the third and fourth circles of Dante's inferno – I, on the advice of a friend, went to see Muse. Their theatrical pomp and overblown, muscular attack took the top of my head off and replaced my brain with a great big lump of wallop.

The news, then, that their latest album, Drones, is a concept set to become a musical makes perfect sense. It also explains the, at times, over-expository lyrics and the big theme slapped on the front. Fans of Banksy will think it coruscating political satire. Others may opt for tiresome, humdrum cliché. Still: books, covers… let’s press on, shall we?

The first thing that becomes apparent from the opener, “Dead Inside”, is that musically, this is much more fun than you might expect – certainly more than any song documenting complete loss of hope in a totalitarian state has any right to be. It sounds a bit like Cameo for Christ’s sake! The march of evil (“Psycho”), is a glam stomp, cut from the same cloth as 2009’s “Uprising”, while “Reapers” is all low-slung, high-density riffs – like AC/DC trying to escape the gravitational pull of a dying star while, at the same time, borrowing a melody from George Michael’s “Freedom” – an alarmingly neat trick to pull off. “The Handler” and “Defector” are, similarly, Muse going back to doing what they do best, namely posturing, paranoid pop-prog: think Queen with pro-tools and a conspiracy theory plug-in. So far, so good.

Not every punch lands however. “Mercy” and “Revolt” are far too straight-ahead pop, and the final suite of songs has issues. The Pink Floyd guitar tones in “The Globalist” I can forgive. I’ll even let them off the indulgent baroque barbershop of “Drones”. That said, there’s no excuse for any song that starts off like someone playing U2’s “One” through a practice amp (“Aftermath”).

Overall, Drones marks a welcome return to a more familiar, more grounded sound. It may well be that the concept makes more sense on the stage than on the stereo, but, for now, this will do just fine.

It's much more fun than anything documenting complete loss of hope in a totalitarian state has any right to be

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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