Muse are back with their seventh studio album Drones. Their pre-release of ‘Dead Inside’ lulled us into a false sense of security, a pop-rock track with angst filled lyrics. Nice enough – but nothing out of the ordinary.
However, this was just a red herring for what is arguably one of Muse’s best albums. Having sold over 17 million albums worldwide, Drones epitomises why Muse have gained their reputation as one of the biggest rock bands of today.
Rather than exploring different musical genres, Muse have gone back to their roots, harking back to the 90’s when they entered the music scene as three talented teenagers. Instead of experimenting with computerised music, emphasis is given to good old-fashioned instruments. Matt’s trademark riffs are embedded throughout the album, alongside Chris’ intricate bass and Dom’s punchy drumming. Influences of Queen and Pink Floyd can be heard throughout the album. Matt’s trademark falsetto is eerily similar to that of Freddie Mercury, and the sombre, moody lilts are reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
In terms of the concept of the album, Matt has certainly outdone himself. Having progressed from themes of globalisation and squandering resources in previous album The 2nd Law, Drones follows the journey of a soldier who becomes indoctrinated and turned into a killing machine. ‘Psycho‘ sets the scene with the line “repeat after me, I am a killing machine.” We then hear how the soldier realises the futility of war, and eventually breaks free from constraints to create his own nuclear destruction.
Political messages and emotional responses
It seems only fitting that Muse explore the themes of nuclear weaponry, remote controlled drones and manipulation. Political messages have always been Muse’s trademark and are interwoven throughout each album, always discussing controversial issues before they even make it into mainstream media.
Muse attempt to engage their listening by provoking an emotional response. The formation of a narrative prompts listeners to follow the album almost like a book. Indeed, there are Orwellian motifs throughout; dark and probing, and most definitely gut-wrenching. Anyone that has read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World will also understand this notion.
The book focuses on psychological manipulation and conditioning, and the underlying current of not being in control of one’s decisions. This is almost a direct parallel to Drones, which delves into the topic of Communism, including speeches from John F Kennedy. “The Globalist” sets the stage for more conception album based work for Muse. Matt has already stated that he would like Drones to become a musical, and the ten-minute song perfectly fits the bill.
Undeniably talented at stirring the senses
Concepts aside, perhaps something that is overlooked is how tightly knit Muse is as a band. Yes, this may be because they have been playing together for twenty years, but also because they are acutely aware of how the others work. This has led to an album that doesn’t need digressive symphony sections like Exogenesis, but instead delves deeper into the way music can make you feel and power of lyrical genius. Almost like a grandiose film production the album reaches climaxes and plummets again, a rollercoaster of emotive hits. The album is undeniably theatrical and plays to Matt Bellamy’s strength as an all round performer. This album will certainly be a sure fire hit when Muse start touring.
Even those who are not familiar with Muse can’t help but feel stirred to question their own integrity and socio-political status. While Muse may not appeal to everyone’s music taste, they are undeniably talented at stirring the senses. The title track, almost like a prayer, features Matt’s voice layered and harmonized to form a choir. This seems almost obscure, but when haven’t Muse ended an album with a song that makes you stop and think?
Overall Drones is a performance. There may be skeptics who think that think the album is an over-the-top spectacle, but after all – that’s the Muse we know and love. It’s great to have you back boys.