Drones, the new release by Muse bears a sound that my ears can appreciate being bombarded with. For the past few months in the car or out on the town for the occasional night of karaoke, I have heard constant reruns and one man covers of Megan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith. Both songs are good and capture the gist of popular musical mood. On the other hand, I imagine many have filled their internet radios with Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus stations and hearing the newest musical endeavor of Muse has certainly restored my faith in current music culture.
This album is…well…smashing. Muse have shown that they can be versatile and original with refreshing yet grounded arrangements. Coming off with an undeniable 80s vibe, “Dead Inside” immediately caught my attention with a poppy-synth sound that is enveloped in screeching guitar. Although it is catchy and effects-wise electronically fun (as is this whole album) it doesn’t capture the overall tone of Drones. An interesting follower, “Drill Sergeant” strikes me as an updated version of the beloved idea that “you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat” and demonstrates the classic innovation of spoken background pieces that only add the depth of the song. The short bit is finished with a sudden cut-off leading into “Psycho” which has a sexual rock appeal. Steady strings and a strong drum beat dances with the shrieks and moans of vocalist Matt Bellamy, which stings with a smack and due to foreboding lyrics and heavy instrumentals, the song holds a sense of appealing control. As “Psycho” says, “your ass belongs to me now.”
The next few songs range from hopeful to chilly and metallic. “Mercy” is upbeat and a decent filler but nothing truly extraordinary. It could easily be taken as a cry for relief – a breakdown of sorts, but I found the latter songs on Drones to be much more powerful and therefore, believable. That is not to say that “Mercy” isn’t record-worthy; it’s just a more simplistic selection, a soft precursor to the pulsating throb and electro-galactic sound effects of “Reaper.” “JFK” produces a political and at the same time anarchical message that has a piecing and dragging marching tone. For many listeners, this could be taken in many different directions. Some may see it as an annoying anti-government yelp. Others may take it as a declaration of human nature and rights. However it is perceived, it cannot be denied it is a powerful song that generates much energy and musical appreciation.
The music sways from rough and metallic to ethereal and more organic towards the end of the album. The entirety of Drones is full of emotion, but Muse’s strengths are when they can pluck the strings of hearts, and what well-rounded album does not have a song about love? Calming and melancholy “Aftermath” is the perfect slow tune to contrast with the previously ramped up selections. The lyrics represent obvious romance and feelings of love: “From this moment/you’ll never be alone.” Granted, a bit on the “I’ve heard this sort of thing before” side, yet heartfelt and slightly mournful. It speaks to the gentle turn of subject and meaning and is such as strong song that it has the ability to generate deep thoughts and remembrance of times passed. Dying down after a triumphant declaration of love and nearly closing the curtain, “The Globalist” comes across like a slightly psyched-out 1960s slow jam, mashed together with a guitar climax that comes screaming back to the modern era. Thankfully, some of the more abrasive elements that permeated previous songs have died down into romantic piano playing and gospel-like chimes as haunting voices wisp their way through the end with Drones. Clever title, right?
This album was a joy to my ears-quite literally. It surprised me at every turn and managed to perk my ears as I appreciate the musical entity is still pushing the physical act of making music. It is here as I sit and listen to these pieces of sonic poetry that I am thankful for Muse and their ability to brighten and hopefully enlighten listeners. This is the kind of music that should be heard! Meaningful and bursting with emotion, powerful musicality, prominent but not overbearing sound effects and passionate vocals makes Drones a must for the everyday music junkie. Tune out, Drone in.