Album review: Muse – ‘Drones’

Muse don’t write albums. They write scores that are meant to be the soundtrack to life. And Drones has been one of the most anticipated in recent months. So, do you like the ’80s? Do you like glam rock? Yes? Then you’ll love this blockbuster epic that sounds like an Orwellian tragedy rather than an album.

Known for their proclivity for the absurd – and sometimes too absurd – Muse have given us a concept album about a man’s gradual awakening to the oppressions of modern society wrapped in absurdity that is just short of their previous offering, The 2nd Law.

Opening with a smack of electro-funk, Matt Bellamy wails “I am crushed and pulverised/Because you need control,” on Dead Inside. It could be about politics. It could be about his recent break-up. Who knows? Either way it sounds as confused as the rest of the album, which doesn’t know what it wants to be. It is certainly explosive and unexpected though. Which is nice. Muse-like. (What is that, anyway?)

Like much of the best moments of the band’s discography, Drones uses guitar as the basis for melodic interplay that’s epic both in sound and scale. Drummer Dominic Howard takes you on a journey though his entire range of toms, while bassist Chris Wolstenholme hardly features except on Psycho, where the band goes back to their The Resistance days.

Mercy harks back to the Muse of old, with piano and epic guitar work supporting beautiful harmonies. It’s by far my favourite. But then Reapers comes in and sounds like a cross between Nirvana and Iron Maiden … and then Def Leppard and you’re left wondering WTF?! The Handler is similar in its absurdity.

Defector has synth and Queen-esque vocals for days, which is undercut by soaring guitar. Revolt is non-commital, Aftermath is odd and The Globalist is a 10-minute version of Unintended and Drones is a hymn.

If you know what to make of Drones, please tell me. Because I would love to know. It’s also preachy. Very irritatingly preachy. 

Dear Muse. Stop it. Just stop. Love, your biggest fan ever.

Rating: 4/10

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Nikita Ramkissoon

Editor at So Much Music
Nikita is a Journalism and Education lecturer by day and music Jedi master by night. She can be seen in the photography pit or stage left with her Wookie husband. She can also be found trying to source corn dogs. If you see her, buy her a corn dog. She loves corn dogs.