It seems improbable that Muse have released seven albums. It seems even more improbable that they’ve almost all revolved around the same themes of dystopian suppression. Yet here we are in 2015 with Drones, a topical take on that same dystopia they’ve been warning us about.
Their previous effort, 2012’s The 2nd Law, was quite possibly one of the most pretentious, over-stuffed, and over-ambitious albums ever recorded. Three years later, Muse has fortunately taken a step back and released an album that at least sounds like true rock & roll music, if still with their classic proggy spin. Drones begins with the single “Dead Inside,” a track heavy on the drums and guitar riffs with no true melody running through it. This runs into the militant “[Drill Sergeant]” and “Psycho,” which creates an ominous trifecta of songs I wasn’t hoping would start off this album. Luckily, the next track is the surprisingly catchy second single “Mercy.”
The next few deep tracks return to the aggressive but forgettable prog rock of the The 2nd Law and 2009’s The Resistance before escaping with the single-esque pop rock of “Revolt” (the chorus is pretty catchy, despite its subject matter: “You’ve got strength / You’ve got soul / You’ve felt pain / You’ve felt love”) and semi-ballad “Aftermath.” After that is the ten minute long “The Globalist,” their latest attempt at an epic, this time tinged with a Pink Floyd atmospheric haze that somehow morphs into heavy guitar riffs, angelic chanting, a countdown, jet engines, – oh, you get it by now… It is Muse, after all. Oh, and then it morphs again into the piano rock intro melody of The Resistance‘s “United States of Eurasia.” OK, I think it’s all over now… Except for the final title track “Drones,” which I just can’t even comprehend right now. I think it’s a church hymn about drones. I don’t know. I don’t want to know.
OK, so it’s still almost as pretentious, over-stuffed, and over-ambitious as The 2nd Law. But at least it has a couple decent singles on it. Muse may not have gone all the way back to their earliest roots, but then again, they couldn’t have gone any deeper down the rabbit hole.