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.
We would stay up and just talk until the wee hours. It was a bond we had, although it probably meant way more to me than her. Cousins, although not by blood, when my aunt said we were too old to sleep in the same room, we instead just went to the sofas down stairs and kept the conversation going.
There wasn’t any specific music as we chatted, it’s just that Queen’s The Game reminds me of those times. It was at at my cousins place where I first listened to this record but over the years it began to fade into the background, until I recently picked up this used copy on vinyl. It was the only format that I really wanted to own it on. I’m sentimental that way. If I originally heard it on vinyl, then that is how I want it now.
Queen put out ‘better’ records of course. (Although, The Game has sold more than any other Queen record due to two number one hits “Another One Bites The Dust” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”)
Early on they did the prog thing, and then they started this hybrid roaring twenties in the distant future bit. Honestly, I always pictured Queen as being at their best when imagining a movie cross of styles between Metropolis and Blade Runner. While Mercury and May were always a pretty much “over the top” duo, The Game along with the Flash Gordon Soundtrack was the end of the FM years for Queen as they began turning towards Mercury’s more ballad and broadway inspired material. He has always been the greatest vocalist to come out of “Rock”, but in the 80’s and 90’s it was as if he wanted to prove it… in my experience, when the ego gets bigger than the music, that’s when an artist begins to really… um… suck!
From The Works on I just couldn’t get into it. “Radio Ga Ga” was a song that just forced a change in the station. Maybe the Brits at Live Aid were into it, but that song drove me insane.
So it was nothing new after that. Sure I would, and did go back to listen to Night at the Opera and Day at the Races, but it was like photographs of days gone by. The Game, is a great classic record, but it is best suited as an entrance to memories. My cousin and I see each other now and then, but it’s been a long time since we sat up talking late into the night about nothing and everything. Meanwhile Queen keeps trying to keep memories alive, and in the process kinda ruin the legacy they have.