A unified theory of everything
It pays to not take yourself too seriously. Wolfmother disappeared up their lupine behind on Cosmic Egg in 2009, Arcade Fire didn’t do themselves any long-term favours on wrong-way-go-back effort Everything Now and Muse put out Drones in 2015, which “followed a soldier from abandonment to indoctrination as a ‘human drone’ and eventual defection”. Zzzzz. I saw you nod off at the word indoctrination. So did I.
Well, hello McFly, anybody home? Muse go back to the future on their eighth album, Simulation Theory, a filmic synth-rock fantasia of songs that remind me of Dream Theater, Spinal Tap, early Kasabian and (bows) Queen. You will have as much fun with this record as Rami Malek did playing Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Opening track, Algorithm,
goes Pink Floyd sans Syd Barrett plus Nine Inch Nails in a neon-lit fairgrounds flight simulator. Clearly, they are on.
Matt Bellamy dials up the drama on The Dark Side, “Break me out, break me out, Let me flee, Break me out, break me out, Set me free,” then gives us the funniest note on the album, “For all my life, I’ve been besieeeeeged.”
Get Up and Fight is loads of fun, it starts like a nearly-cheesy mid ’90s club anthem before Bellamy turns up the histrionics a little too much (even for him).
Propaganda sounds like The Darkness trying to make Flight Of the Conchords change teams. Bellamy pants and gives the come-hither eyes, a tree monster voice repeats “Propprop-propaganda” then a slide guitar slips behind the velvet rope and slots into the VIP section drinking an Old Fashioned. That’s the visual.
Muse have rescued their careers and artistic integrity via an album that never drones.
VERDICT The disco rock space opera Muse were born to do