“A collection of profound and epic album reviews and musical articles by former astronaut and brain surgeon, Alasdair Kennedy. Reaching levels of poetry that rival Keats and Blake, the following reviews affirm Alasdair to be a prodigy, a genius and a god whose opinion is always objectively right. He is also without a doubt the most modest man in the universe.” - Alasdair Kennedy
Muse have never been masters at subtlety. Their combination of
classical-inspired rock and Matt Bellamy’s operatic warbling at times couldn’t
be more melodramatic if it tried. When singing about black holes and alien invasions a lot
of this melodrama came across as charming. Like an explosion-packed action
flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously, Muses theatrical sound
represented nothing but indulgent fun.
But then Muse started taking themselves seriously,
The Resistance and
The 2nd Law introduced the themes of government control and global warming. Around the same time, the group
became less guitar focused - The
Resistance dedicating a large section of it’s running time to classical
noodling, whilst The 2nd Law dabbled
in dubstep, confusing just about everyone.
sees the band reasserting themselves as a rock band, bringing the guitars back
to the forefront. Whilst there are still some odd sonic deviancies along the
way, the majority of the album is dedicated to face-melting, whiplash-inducing,
meaty riffage. ‘Reapers’ is an all-out bluesy jam complete with Van-Halen-esque
tapping, whilst ‘The Handler’ is heavy enough to rival most metal bands. Fans
of Muse’s softer side will be disappointed – ‘Mercy’ is the only tame radio-friendly
single here. Personally, I’m glad Muse haven’t become another U2 or Coldplay
imitation. I haven’t heard a mainstream
band deliver a rock album this loud in a long time.
Me air-guitaring like a dork whilst listening to 'Reapers'
Sadly, Muse’s choice to yet again get serious and political lyrically distracts from a lot of the instrumental fun. Essentially ananti-military rock opera, Drones centres around the tale of a drone pilot who
realises he’s being brainwashed, goes rogue, sets up his own nuclear state and
haphazardly destroys the world (oops, spoilers!).
Some of it is zany enough to forgive. The ten minute
genre-cycling epic, ‘The Globalist’, paired with lyrics about a nuclear apocalypse on one hand has a cartoonish dystopian vibe to it. However, there are
moments such as the ‘there are no
countries’ line that feel like they’re actually trying to be profound.
The problem is that in order to be profound you need to be
emotionally convincing, of which Muse are incapable of. Their theatrical style
and Matt’s overacted vocal delivery make everything comical and goofy.
Consequently, ‘Revolt’ sounds like a parody of a rebellion song, whilst ‘Aftermath’
tries to be a sad ballad but ends up like a corny Disney theme.
How I picture Matt Bellamy singing during 'Aftermath'
Other times, this attempt to be profound is simply ruined
due to the bluntness of the lyrics. Whilst I largely agree with the
anti-brainwashing sentiments of ‘Psycho’, the way in which it is candidly
delivered makes it feel plain insensitive.
The way I see it, Muse are better off sticking to black
holes and alien invasions for subject matter. Drones is probably one of the band’s most cohesive and impressive works
instrumentally, but lyrically it’s full of potholes and this prevents it from
being the fun rollercoaster ride it wants to be.