By David Winlo
For Muse’s 2015 album, they promised fans a move away from the orchestras and computer effects seen in 2009’s ‘The Resistance’ and ‘The Second Law’ of 2012. A move fans hoped would take them back towards the simpler three-piece set up that gave rise to their breakthrough album, ‘Origin of Symmetry’, in 2001. Last year they delivered the result of this decision: Drones.
From its title and cover art alone, we could see this was going to be a politically-influenced album. Whilst some bemoaned this theme becoming more common in their lyrics in recent years, there were no complaints from me. Matt Bellamy uses his protagonist to explore themes of being under control, the longing for for freedom, the rebellion this longing causes. Yes, there are bands that ‘suit’ such themes better, such as Anti-Flag and Rise Against, especially when bringing political themes into the mix as well, but Muse do succeed on this latest effort.
Musically, the album is slightly mixed with regards to Muse’s promise of a direction-change. In some areas they do well – Chris Wolstenholme provides ‘Mercy’ with some interesting moments in the bass, and Matt Bellamy once again shows off both his unusual custom guitar and his ability to create strange yet captivating guitar solos. Drummer Dom Howard has a less attention-grabbing role, but nevertheless has his moments, with strong and fitting beats and fills throughout the album. In other areas they let us down slightly – the riffs, whilst fun, are not as complex as fans of tracks like ‘Plug in Baby’ are used to, nor bass lines as imaginative as such songs as ‘Hysteria’.
Despite this slight lapse in creativity and in their typical style, Muse show us another aspect to their sound, another small range of styles they can make their own.
Image from Muse’s Website