Rock

The Guardian - G2 - - Reviews Music - Michael Hann

Artist Muse Al­bum Sim­u­la­tion The­ory La­bel Warner Bros

Matt Bel­lamy has spent much of Muse’s ca­reer warn­ing us about tech­no­log­i­cal con­spir­a­cies to take over the world, but he looks a bit less pe­cu­liar in the age of Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica. Which, nat­u­rally, is the point at which he chose to trail Muse’s eighth al­bum with the most con­ven­tional rock-star gripe of all, on Some­thing Hu­man, a coun­try­ish lope about how hard the life of the tour­ing rock star is: “10,000 miles left on the road / 500 hours un­til I am home / I need some­thing hu­man.” No, Matt! Bring back the drones and the robots and the alien over­lords! Sim­u­la­tion The­ory comes trailed as Muse’s syn­th­pop al­bum (it’s not re­ally), heav­ily in­spired by the 1980s (well, in its cover art; less so in most of the mu­sic). New pro­duc­ers are on board, among them Shell­back and Tim­ba­land, charged with find­ing a new face to Muse. Which they do, to a cer­tain ex­tent. Pro­pa­ganda sounds like Muse are try­ing to be Prince, which isn’t en­tirely con­vinc­ing, while Get Up and Fight bolts on a power bal­lad cho­rus to an el­e­gantly re­strained verse. But the less poppy mo­ments are most ex­cit­ing: the cas­cad­ing arpeg­gios of Block­ades, giv­ing way to fu­ri­ous power chords. Or Al­go­rithm, with its none-more-jack­booted synth bass line, ur­gent strings, and Bel­lamy emot­ing about how “al­go­rithms evolve / Push aside / Ren­der us ob­so­lete / This means war.” That’s when you feel your­self seized by an un­ac­count­able de­sire to march through the streets wav­ing a mas­sive flag, warn­ing your neigh­bours that the robots are com­ing to kill us. Ob­vi­ously, it would be prefer­able if robots weren’t com­ing to kill us. But for the sake of the gai­ety of mankind, let us hope Bel­lamy re­tains the nag­ging sus­pi­cion that it re­ally is go­ing to hap­pen. Bet­ter that than he car­ries on telling us life is lonely on the road, babe.

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