I’d heard so much about Muse’s new album, Drones, and certainly read a lot more, until I finally got the chance to listen to the record myself and form my humble opinion. Yet nothing really prepared me for such an experience.
To be honest, for the past few records, I’ve been quite tired listening to the band rambling on and on about conspiracy theories, black holes, atheists, mind control by the ‘highest powers’ and the need to stand our ground against any possible entity in this universe; be it human or alien. For how much longer could someone relate to every single weird idea passing through Bellamy’s head?
So as Drones started to unfold single by single, I figured this would be one of the same; that that time had come again and I would have to get around his head one more time, desperately trying to convince myself that his divine voice would be enough to counterbalance crazy themes and electronic experiments. – Luckily, we knew right from the start that Muse had finally gotten rid of the latter, as they had promised when introducing this album.
All that was now left to explore was whether the record would justify its title to such an extent that it would become predictable and boring, or whether Muse would finally create something unique that could somehow take us back to the band’s former days of glory. And while Drones is no Origin of Symmetry or Showbiz or Absolution, it’s still special in its own right.
The concept of a soldier being bred to kill and ultimately attempting to revolt doesn’t sound that far-fetched, does it? Then again, when you combine it with machines telling humans to command machines to, in turn, kill humans, you get this beautiful ‘Bellamian chaos’ I referred to above. But there’s an upside; somewhere between drone warfare and human despair, this album is actually exceptionally good!
I admit that Psycho didn’t amuse me at first, but the second time around, I was sort of obsessed with its catchy music which allowed me to ignore its somewhat annoying chorus. (Still can’t get over the ‘your ass belongs to me now’ part, though.) Dead Inside is excellent in portraying the numbness that follows submission to power and machines – or perhaps love? (Many have gone on to hint that Bellamy is not entirely talking about drones there, but even more so about ex-fiancée Kate Hudson.)
As I’ve said in previous posts, Mercy is one of my favourite tracks off the record, encapsulating that Muse energy that was missing from the last couple albums, accompanied by an even greater music video. But the song I completely adored, without being in a position to entirely explain why, is The Handler. The man’s hopeless craving for freedom is beautifully highlighted through the dark, rock surroundings that might echo the band’s Black Holes and Revelations album or even Queen’s dramatic music.
Although Defector comes right after John F. Kennedy’s powerful speech, it seems it’s still not that inspiring to make me want to revolt, while Reapers follows a similar pattern. On the other hand, Revolt, as its name suggests, is capable of getting its hopeful message across, making us believe that we might as well be more powerful than drones, in that we can experience pain and love. The song has, surprisingly, a certain pop feel to it, which coincides with its optimistic lyrics.
Aftermath, The Globalist and Drones are the ending to this rather troubling story, with the first one’s soothing melody capturing the end of the storm and the last one’s creepy ‘choir vocals’ painting a much less hopeful portrait; “My mother, my father, my sister and my brother, my son and my daughter, killed by drones” is really not that positive, is it? Neither is “Now you can kill from the safety of your home with drones.” But hey, why not embrace the darkness of this record and accept that we might one day all die because of drones… No? Too unreal? Let’s hope Matt doesn’t get his way – although you could say we’re probably half way there!
(I don’t really see how The Globalist is supposed to be the sequel to Citizen Erased, which has to be my all-time favourite Muse song, but it definitely shares its heavy pessimism. No country left to protect, no ideals to fight for; and all we wanted was to be loved…)
Someone told me that Muse is heading towards the end of their career. So as this excruciatingly long post comes to end I would simply like to tell him that, sure, they’re not at its peak; but I’d say they’re doing pretty well, mister!