It’s hard to gain respect when you are the world’s most bombastic band. Ask ELO or Queen about critical reception and there will always be those critics who point out the over the top nature of such artists. On top of this Muse can’t shake the fact that vocalist/guitarist Matthew Bellamy phrases his singing like The Bends era Thom Yorke and plays flashy guitar reminiscent of Brian May. Thing is, if you were to describe the ingredients of a great sounding record, you could do much worse than those guys.
The only thing that can save artists from the line of ‘artistic achievement’ and ‘unholy disaster’ is a group of songs that both the band and their fans can embrace as “really f’in cool.” So now you have Drones, an album that uses the mechanical bringers of death as a metaphor for the loss of humanity, identity and empathy. It shoots for the stars and attempts to play more like a rock opera on the movie screen than a mere record put out in 2015.
Odd as it seems, they make it work. Sure you get the impression that they listened to a few popular 80’s records along the lines of The Power Station and Foreigner to update their previous sounds, but damn, it’s fun and they sell it with conviction. You might accuse them of being pretentious; an honest criticism in their case, but the basic fact is that Drones is entertainment. Think of it this way, not every war film made is about the consequences of violence; some are released so that people can watch big explosions and stuff popcorn in their face simultaneously… and there is nothing wrong with that.
So when Bellamy sings “men in cloaks / always seem to run the show / mercy / from the powers that be” you can either roll your eyes or turn up the volume, but there is just no way you can ignore it.
Now for the purchase details.
Muse does know how to treat their fans and make a few bucks. You can buy Drones on all the usual physical mediums or you can buy this gorgeous gem.
In a tri-fold cover, the deluxe edition contains two 180 gram red vinyl discs, CD, DVD, download card and two litho art prints. It’s pricey and you’ll need to cover shipping… but damn, it looks pretty sweet.