Thursday, July 2, 2015

Muse - Drones (2015)

After some weird experimenting in both "The Resistance" and "The 2nd Law", the English rockers in Muse has now gone back to what made them a big name in the first place, a more direct rock sound that focuses more on simplistic, groovy beats than complex, electronic vibes. It is a decision I welcome with open arms since most of the band's best material was simple, but very effective, captivating the listener with Matt Bellamy's entrancing voice and spaced out guitar playing.

The new album is called "Drones", it is the band's seventh full length effort, and it is actually a concept album, following the journey of the protagonist who loses hope, and eventually becomes this sort of human drone, only to later revolt and take down his enemies. I had quite some trouble understanding the full concept and its meaning at first, but the more research I did, the clearer the picture became. It is an interesting concept indeed, even if the lyrics itself are far from convincing.

Musically, it stands clear that the band is back where they belong. "Drones" reminds me quite well of the band during the period of where they released their two most memorable pieces to date, "Absolution" in 2003 and "Black Holes And Revelations" in 2006. It is strong stadium rock where the whole image is the main factor to make it as good as possible. It is unmistakeably Muse you are listening to, no question about that.

Even if I highly enjoy that the band is back to their roots, doing what they do best, I feel like the song material on "Drones" are a little watered out. The whole arrangement is not as crisp as I would have wanted it to be, with the music swinging from good to mediocre in every turn. I especially miss some really catchy choruses to go together with the excellent musicianship, because several songs, like "The Handler" and "Defector", have a great core, but miss that memorability factor that made songs like "Knights of Cydonia" and "Hysteria" so god damn awesome.

There is still plenty of goodness for all Muse fans though, even if I think none of the songs here will become true classics, but some might be fun, lasting live songs. "Mercy" is just a typical Muse song that would be so good live, while in the CD format, it feels kind of underwhelming. Still, a great song that stands out for all the good reasons. "Psycho" entertains the listener with a groovy riff and a beat that is a lot like the one in "Uprising", with it being a straight out copy, while the 10 minute epic "The Globalist" shows off all of Muse's tricks, from intense riffing to calm melody lines a la "Bohemian Rhapsody". I personally find most of the unmentioned material fairly dull, but I think that some of you guys would appreciate them more than me.

So after their weird phase, it is good to have Muse back where they belong. "Drones" may not be a instant classic, being a plain narrated concept album, but it should easily win back the hearts of the fans that did not care much for the band's two latest releases. It is still straight forward rock and roll with some psychedelic elements mixed into it, so I am still happy about this record. Not their best, but still a good enjoyable album.

Songs worthy of recognition: Mercy, Psycho, The Handler

Rating: 7/10 Drill Sergeants

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