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.