Muse plug in, baby……
Since the year 2000, music lovers have seen Muse evolve. Evolve into one of the biggest bands around. Their music has evolved a lot too, and this time they have gone more electric than ever before with the release of their new album, Simulation Theory.
A very keyboard driven album this time too. The three members of the band – Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard – have dabbled with the keyboards in previous albums, but Simulation Theory is probably their most synth laden album yet.
It starts with Algorithm. A belting drum beat, with the electronics bringing a familiar drama to the song along with Bellamy’s usual operatic style vocals. It picks up in tempo with The Dark Side. “Break me out! Break me out! Set me free!”, cries Bellamy in a song that doesn’t resemble the title. It has quite a groove to it, a proper nod to the 80’s in this one.
And there is a synth-pop feel to the third offering, Pressure. The guitar work is back in evidence here though, and that certainly adds to the song that has the ability to make you get up and have a boogie in the comfort of your own home. Propaganda is the fourth song on the album, and this is proper 80’s pomp. Even down to the bit of DJ-ing that I haven’t heard since Malcolm McLaren released Buffalo Girls.
Break It To Me is the half way point of the album, and has a right old dirty sound to it. The guitar work is something that Prince would’ve been proud of. Bellamy uses the electronics to his vast vocal advantage, and this is definitely one that will grow on you. Something Human follows that, and is a much more subtle number. Acoustic guitar and a more whispering tone to Bellamy makes this song one of the songs of the album.
Chris Wolstenholme gets in on the act with his usual bass sound on Thought Contagion. Matt Bellamy gives us a punk style attitude to the singing before going back to normal come chorus time, complete with obligatory whoaaaaaaaa’s. And let’s not ignore Dominic Howard and his contribution on the drums either. Hard and heavy when necessary. Get Up And Fight is certainly deceptive. Again, another pinch of subtle in this song until it gets to chorus time and the anthem baiting, “Get up and fiiiiiigght!” kicks in with a heavy boot.
Blockades goes back into keyboard territory, and it does have the sound of one of their older singles, Bliss. It certainly does the job though, with sound of the 80’s once again ringing in our ears. Penultimate song is Dig Down. A wah-wah style of synth, but a slow tempo that will make the fingers snap, and then it bursts into life towards the end of the song with Bellamy on top vocal form. The Void is the final song on the album, and a dark but not too harsh approach to this one as, once again, the keyboards take control to end Simulation Theory on a good note.
Have Muse taken a risk on this album? That’s for the listener to decide. They’ve never stuck to one formula, always willing to stretch their musical abilities to see how far they can go. I was worried about Simulation Theory, but it hasn’t taken long to appreciate this album. And on that note, Muse are still one of the premier rock bands around. And keeping us entertained is what they do best.
Simulation Theory by Muse is out now on all formats on the Warner Music label