I remember the days I used to like Muse. During their first four albums actually. Starting off as some weird Radiohead clone and releasing a solid album called 'Showbiz', the band evolved into the awesome progressive/alternative rock three-piece that created 'The Origin of Symmetry,' without a doubt one of my favourite rock albums of all time. Evolving their songs more with added synths and new harmonies, they went on to do 'Absolution' and then 'Black Holes and Revelations', both excellent and very different albums in their own right.
Then the inevitable happened. The other two members of the band crawled up Matt Bellamy's arsehole and died. Not content with their own awesome sound and legacy, Matt went about stuffing his head up the arseholes of Freddie Mercury's and Michael Jackson's corpses. 'The Resistance' was released, a wishy washy weak effort to be something they're just not, literally and shamelessly copying the vocal harmonies of classic Queen and recycling riffs and endless arpeggios of the previous albums. Complete pretentious crap. I hated it.
Things didn't get better. 'The 2nd Law' wasn't any better. Their Olympic Games ceremony song sounded like they were trying to summon some sort of demon and the rest of the album seemed intent on making the same mistakes 'The Resistance' had made. The band really needed someone to knock Matt Bellamy's head in and tell him he cannot just copy the music of dead artists and expect to be recognised positively.
Their seventh studio album, called 'Drones' was apparently going to set things straight once again. Supposedly returning to their roots (hah yeah right), this new album was meant to aid the band in reconnecting to who they really were. So far so good right? Well… no.
'Drones' begins off with something that sounds like it's off Queen's 'Hot Space' album called 'Dead Inside'. In fact, they still haven't stopped using Queen's vocal harmony, which everyone is going to still recognise as Queen because IT SOUNDS LIKE FUCKING QUEEN. I don't think we're stupid Muse, and I'd like to think that you don't think we're stupid. When we hear them high pitched harmonised screeches, we think of Queen, not Muse. Come up with your own vocal harmony. Minus two points.
After a cringe worthy skit, things begin to improve. 'Psycho' has a catchy and solid riff and manages not to copy anything off anybody else. It sounds a bit like a few other Muse songs however, such as 'The Uprising' just without all the synths and the army soldier dude yelling in-between the verses is kinda pretentious. Minus two points.
'Mercy' sounds a lot like 'Map of the Problematique' from 'Black Holes and Revelations'. They synthy piano keys and background arpeggios that they appear to stick into many tracks are beginning to sound samey. Minus two points. The next track, 'Reapers' is actually very good, despite the guitar solo being a bit monotonous and boring, so I'll give them plus two points for that.
As we get into the middle of the album, things get interesting. For one track at least. 'The Handler' reminds me of 'Citizen Erased' off 'The Origin of Symmetry' album and despite the lack of real climax in the song, it sounds great. Plus two points.
Minus two points for every track after that because they're just fucking boring. This is strange because on paper, 'Drones' sounds like it has everything I want from a Muse album. A healthy balance of new and old, whilst still sounding like Muse and not some other artist who is infinitely better and infinitely more dead.
Lyrically, Bellamy appears dead set on themes of futuristic war and inner struggle, nothing really new there since that is the exact vibe 'Black Holes and Revelations' had. Musically however, the band appear dead set on boring me. And it isn't because they've stripped away most of the synths and effects and full blown orchestra's they had in their last two efforts, it's just because the music is boring. 'The Origin of Symmetry' had a similar sound and production to 'Drones' but is infinitely better because it isn't as clean cut. There is spontaneity throughout, passion and anger, love and hate and an awesome cover of 'Feeling Good.' 'Drones' is too safe, too clean cut. It's the boring pop songs of 'The Resistance' and 'The 2nd Law' just without all of the studio effects and added synths. There is nothing here that screams 'we spent two fucking months perfecting this song,' just music that could have been thought up in an afternoon. Minus two fucking points.
Maybe I'm being harsh. Well, actually I am being harsh. There are some redeeming values of 'Drones.' The fact that is better than their last two efforts is probably the biggest one. It isn't their worst album by a long way, that would go to 'The Resistance.' There is just nothing new here, it's a mediocre mix of old and new Muse with a generous helping of Queen thrown in there. It's a big shame, I hoped much better of this album. Minus two points.
I think Muse have probably evolved into something I can never like again. Which is a shame, but their early works are not going anywhere and no matter which dead artist this band chose to rape next, nothing is going to stop their first four albums from being good. We will see in the future if Muse can pull something out of the bag I can like again, technically, with 'Drones' they're halfway there.
But I swear to God if they don't stop copying the vocal harmonies of Queen then I'll never forgive them. It's not big, it's not clever, it isn't even a remotely intelligent move and I'll never ever understand why they decided to do it. Minus two points.