This ‘Muse’ review was written by Marc Simonsson, a GIGsoup contributor.
Few bands remain together for over twenty years and even fewer are successful for such a lengthy period. Muse is part of this select group of musicians who continue to grow in their ability and success with each album that they produce. ‘Drones‘ is the band’s seventh studio album and an ideal example of how the band has evolved, but at the same time remained true to its original sound.
Continuing their paranoid approach to the universe, ‘Drones‘ is a concept album which, in Matt Bellamy’s words, “explores the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors.” The band’s music has grown ever larger in sound and theatrics over its previous six albums culminating in an almost orchestral production for their last album, ‘The 2nd Law‘. In their latest LP, Muse have attempted to return to the raw guitar nature of their earlier work.
Whilst the opening track, ‘Dead Inside‘, may not support their stripped back ethos and thus be more akin to ‘The 2nd Law’, we do not have to delve too far into ‘Drones’ to be injected with some true rock, Muse style! The following interlude, ‘[Drill Sergeant]’, increases the level of intensity and instils a sense of suspense before a brilliantly catchy and heavy guitar riff introduces ‘Psycho’, a track that is technically flawless. But the track also highlights the key weakness of the album, the lyrics. Bellamy may shy away from it in interviews, but lines such as “Love will get you nowhere” are most likely alluding to the recent demise of his engagement. So, rather than contribute towards a complex conceptual piece of art, the lyrics come across as two-dimensional and make the LP lean towards being a ‘break-up’ album at times.
However, whilst Muse may not have flourished in their lyric-writing abilities, they have surpassed all expectations with their musicianship. The purist will argue that they may have coloured the album with powerful guitar and drum solos of their earlier work, but that they have not gone far enough; they have not escaped from the Queen-eques heightened production work of their recent albums. But the purist outlook is perhaps the incorrect approach – ‘Drones’ is not a throwback to their first few albums, it is an album which pays homage to their entire career! Muse have presented a collection of songs that spans the different stages of evolution of their music.
There are songs such as ‘Reapers’, a track which is quite possibly the best song they have ever written, and which includes face melting guitar solos that will ensure it will be on every air-guitar dream playlist. It is six minutes of pure, hard-core, unadulterated, head-banging rock. And then there are tracks such as the closing title track which is lofty and grand in stature and the complete opposite to ‘Reapers’. They may represent different stages of their career, but they both show the band’s technical astuteness and the album’s perfect production quality. The common denominator for all the tracks is that they are all executed and performed with a level of ability which few musicians can attain.
‘Drones’ is not a perfect album – it is slightly disjointed and there are certainly moments of mediocrity. However, one has to fully appreciate the elements on this album for which there is only one way to describe them: genius. Muse are a band that has evolved over time and is now having fun with its creativity. This may be their seventh album and they may be approaching veteran status in the world of rock, but they are still a force to be reckoned with.
‘Drones’ is out now via Warner Music
The full track-listing for ‘Drones’ is as follows…