A concept album about the loss of hope. And, y’know, drones. That will kill you. Dead.
Label: Warner Bros
Released: 8th June 2015
Muse’s seventh album sees the larger than life three-piece once again questioning the society that surrounds them. Their slanted view on the modern world has been a staple of their music, from the small town frustrations of ‘Showbiz’ through the power plays and bombast at the heart of ‘Black Holes and Revelations’ to ‘The 2nd Law’’s attack on global chaos. As each album passes, Muse always have something bigger to say.
Enter ‘Drones’, a concept album about the loss of hope. And, y’know, drones. That will kill you. Dead.
The stadium pomp of album opener ‘Dead Inside’, all twitching synths and scattergun drums, starts the (hardly subtle) narrative with an angst-ridden takedown of unrequited love before ‘Pyscho’ puts a loaded gun to the head of this spirited intimacy and ‘Reapers’ pulls the trigger. But sidetracked by their oft-confused, never subtle, stand against – quote unquote – The Man, ‘Drones’ quickly descends into a struggle for direction.
Matt Bellamy’s lyrics have often been questionably heavy handed, but the more he toys with metaphor and revolution, the more he sounds like a petulant teenager writing his first awkward words. His vocal delivery remains unique, but as soon as that voice stops being an instrument and the lyrics come into focus, the whole affair becomes too jarring to avoid.
In a bid to return to their roots, Muse have ended up retracing their steps. There are moments of genuine excitement dotted throughout ‘Drones’. The middle section of ‘The Globalist’ flawlessly marries the two extremes of Muse’s sound together, while the broken plea of “show me mercy please,” is the most genuine Bellamy’s sounded. Unfortunately, as the band lurch between over considered and under developed, these sweet spots are a rarity.
For a band who strive to push boundaries and wear that sense of adventure with swelled chests, ‘Drones’ comes across as an album that often looks at its feet, and stumbles around that safe middle ground. As the choral conclusion comes to meandering end, we’re left with far more questions than answers. Ali Shutler