Having well and truly settled into their role as space-rock stadium fillers three or four albums ago, all the Teignmouth trio now need to do to maintain their trajectory is to keep releasing ever-more outlandish albums that sound like they’ve been beamed in from Mars.
Simulation Theory – their eighth – fits the mold perfectly, from the opening bars of “Algorithm” and its faux-baroque vocals through to the mini rock-opera closer “The Void”. Equal parts Radiohead, Queen and Ludwig Van Beethoven, eccentric frontman Matt Bellamy & co. are a refreshing change from most of what passes for modern ‘rock’ – utilizing all manner of digital and analog instruments that are all cranked up to top volume for the ultimate, speaker busting bombast.
Trouble is, the theatricals here (and on the last few albums) are often nothing more than a smokescreen that, once blown away, reveals songs that actually don’t stack up to much in terms of listenability. Simulation Theory does have its moments (Thought Contagion, Propaganda) but by the time proceedings are wrapped up there’s precious little to remember.
In true Muse style it will of course all be fantastic live – you can totally imagine the fireworks display that’ll be accompanying “Blockade”, but listening to Simulation Theory in your living room rings curiously hollow. That’s not to say the spectacle of the music or Bellamy’s falsetto is not enormous fun though – just keep your good glassware away from the speakers.
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Sonic assault that blurs the lines between rock and disco.
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Stranger Things OST
Eerie analog electronica from runaway nostalgic Netflix hit series.