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Muse – Drones – Album Review

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MuseDronesCoverMuse – Drones – Album Review

Muse fans are a dedicated bunch. With amazing early albums like Absolution and Origin of Symmetry showcasing the bands ridiculous technical talent while also being able to mix heavy rock with more classical themes the band seemed to have limitless potential. This potential reached its peak between the single-heavy Black Holes And Revelations and the classical-infused instrumentation on The Resistance. Unfortunately for fans their dedication has been tested a lot in recent years. Their last album The 2nd Law yielded some decent singles while the rest of the album seemed a scattered mess with extra pop and even included some questionable dubstep. On their latest effort Drones, the boys decided to pull the other instruments back and keep it simple, but where bands like Green Day failed did Muse succeed? Let’s dig deeper to find out.

Track-by-Track Breakdown

The album opens on the pop-heavy “Dead Inside”  which unfortunately fails at being a good rock or pop song, where previous tracks like “Madness” surprised even the most hardcore Muse fans. Ultimately this song’s shortcomings have nothing to do with the lack of rock anger but instead the lack of energy, as the song never really goes anywhere and feels empty. The opposite can be said of “Psycho,” the riff-driven power stomper that also provides some surprisingly layered chord progressions. It should be noted however the lyrical content of this song can be distracting at times as it is hard to tell if Bellamy is unfairly calling all soldiers mindless killers or just criticizing the bodies they represent.

 

The band actually perfectly mixes their rock and pop on “Mercy” which adds a welcome amount of piano, that’s been absent from most of the bands non instrumental tracks for a while. The tracks technical sophistication is amazing, yet the song’s simplicity actually makes it way more listenable. “Reapers” opens on a killer drum beat and a vicious guitar riff, before dropping into an incredibly urgent verse line. Unfortunately the chorus not only breaks this mood, its strange voice effects and hard changes are ultimately annoying and ruin a song that actually had potential.

The Handler” shows hints of the Muse many fans remember with its dark and heavy rock, layered with some moody synthesizers and Bellamy’s falsetto. The song’s bridge kicks the song into high-gear with its finger-tapping intensity and improves its own chorus in the process. JFK introduces the opera-inspired “Defector” which unfortunately doesn’t manage to fulfill the grandiose goal it sets as its many killer hooks ultimately feel to disconnected and its operatic fills are more of an interruption than welcome additions.

 

Revolt” sounds like a song that was pulled from a rock-opera Muse decided to put a pin in. The song is by no means bad but the overall feel is so out of place, and slow verses ultimately drag the faster choruses down as their isn’t a context for them. “Aftermath” is an easy-listening slow jam and while it’s passable, it doesn’t sound like Muse, isn’t for their audience and just doesn’t work.

The band actually makes a stellar mini-album track with “The Globalist” that manages to mix a lot of their sounds together really well. The lengthy 10 minutes rarely feels too long here as the constant change keeps it interesting and the amazing energy of its second half feel reminiscent of their early work. It even calls back to the much better The Resistance album. With all the good in this track mostly coming down to the band treading their middle work, it seems a shame they didn’t just make a whole album of this kind of music, as it is arguably the best argument for more music from them.

The album ends strangely on the out-of-place title track “Drones” whose a cappella is just boring to be honest and lyrical content worth an almost audible eye-roll.

Conclusion

Drones is the worst album Muse has released in their career, which is saying something after The 2nd Law’s many missteps and for a band who has such amazing song writing talent and versatility the whole thing feels very amateur. They rarely do pop or rock right here and only manage one passable mix of the two. The most compelling track on the whole record is hindered in itself by being 10 minutes long This band who once crafted albums full of great tracks now has trouble making passable singles. Drones suffers not from being a terribly unlistenable album but a generic disappointment, having very little to offer fans of even their last record. The somewhat endearing parts of the band are starting to wear without the creativity and exploration the band once took, making the album basic in every definition of the word.

THE SCENE


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