Muse Simulation: Theory

xx muse

It must be great being in Muse. Cool band, everyone’s got a soft spot for you, you can fill stadiums but also pop into Teignmouth Costa and not get mobbed.

The main problem with Muse is that everyone takes them so seriously, because they’re clever people and make clever music. One review we read for this uses the words “dystopian” and “technophobic”. But we’ve seen them live, it’s just fun, over the top and played loud. That’s it really, and they’re fantastic musicians.

This new one seems to be more straightforward rock than previous outings. While it’s still flamboyant and loud, there’s not much that’s really over the top; there’s a lot of pulsing synth so it’s as much Pet Shop Boys on steroids.

Our favourite, for no good reason, is Break It To, where the guitars sound down-tuned and the rhythm section is in the basement, bolted to a concrete floor. Opener Algorithm is synth heavy and the intro sounds like a tune from Terminator, with Arnie marching grim-faced down a corridor, at least until piano comes in to spoil the image. It’s restrained, in the way a rhino in a straitjacket is restrained. The Dark Side is poppier and more typical Muse while The Void is another dark sci-fi movie theme.

Propaganda is the distorted music from a film about a video game, with a Prince-ish intro (vocals, kick drum, finger clicks). A lot of the album sounds 1980s and Something Human could be the cover of a Depeche Mode tune, while Dig Down’s chorus feels like a feel-good soul tune from the same era, maybe by George Michael.

An enjoyable album, this is perhaps not peak Muse but it’ll all sound good live.


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