Muse – Drones
Progressive rockers Muse are back with a more consistent and focused approach to album number seven, packing plenty of arena-ready rock anthems.
2012 ‘s 2nd Law caught the band in an extremely confusing place, curiously mixing orchestral elements, EDM, and new wave. It was difficult to see what Muse was trying to achieve and was a jarring listen, as it lacked consistency and leaped between genres. Drones, however, is a politically charged back-to-basics album that remains focused throughout.
One of the main faults is that the concept feels forced right from the very start and leaves very little room for interpretation. The sampled interlude ‘ Drill Sergeant’ may add to the narrative but feels incredibly obnoxious, breaking the flow just to hear a very generic, poorly acted military engagement.
Frontman Matt Bellamy’s lyrics also really lack depth and are at times pretty laughable, especially in the song ‘Psycho’: “your ass belongs to me now”. ‘Reapers,’ also suffers from some pretty uninspired lyrics “war, war just moved up a gear/ I don’t think I can handle the truth/ I’m just a pawn/ and were all expandable”. Granted, Muse are known for their instrumental prowess and not their skilled song-writing, but when tackling a concept album more thought should have been given to really engage the listener.
Where the album does shine, however, is instrumentally, ‘Reapers’ contains some excellent frantic tapping from Bellamy clearly inspired by the legendary Eddie Van Halen. Although single ‘Psycho’ might be outrageously over the top with its plodding main riff, it still packs a weighty punch and includes some great fretwork from Bellamy.
‘Drones may be Muse’s best effort since 2006’s ‘Black Holes and Revelations’, but its let down by depthless lyrics, a forced concept and limited number of stand out tracks. The LP is at least a step in the right direction for the arena rock superstars, but is far from their finest work.