Muse, ‘The People’s Will’: Album Review

There is nothing subtle about it Mouse. There never has been. And that’s always been part of their appeal, as well as one of the reasons their detractors have stayed away from their music going on for a quarter of a century now. Like Queen, a band Muse have often been compared to throughout their career, the Matt Bellamy-led group takes a sledgehammer approach to arena-sized theatrical rock. They’ve never met a kitchen sink they didn’t want to introduce to their songs.

Another band Muse has drawn comparisons with, Radiohead, have fueled many of their conceptual ambitions of late. Muse’s ninth album, The Will of the Peopleplays as a sort of spiritual descendant of both OK Computer and Child A in its story of a dystopian world where the metaverse has completely taken over all aspects of society. Does that sound familiar? Again, subtlety has never been one of Muse’s strong points.

Their previous album, 2018’s Simulation theoryscaled back a bit and cornered some of the most obvious influences. The Will of the People, but is full-on Muse: big, overblown and rafter shakes in its sound. Its narrative aims for even larger, paranoid thoughts that give way to rebellious action and a mass disconnection from technological shackles. It doesn’t always make a lot of sense—and it all leads to that determination, according to the closing song, “We Are Fucking Fucked”—but Bellamy and the band deliver the songs with enough conviction that it hardly matters.

And they waste no time getting started. The opening title track launches with stomping percussion and multi-tracked guitar straight out of the Queen Playbook as Bellamy sings, “Every second our anger rises / We will smash a nation to pieces.” It stands as much as a statement of purpose as the tenuous policy that drives it forward The Will of the Peoples big world view. “We have plans to take you down,” he doubles down on “Liberation.” And so on.

The Will of the People has a lot in common with the 2009s The resistance, lyrically and musically. And its best songs – the synth-poppy “Compliance”, the floor-rattling “Won’t Stand Down” and the Radiohead-fused “Kill or Be Killed” System of a Down‘s intensity – is not far off from career highs The origin of symmetry and Black holes and revelations, though it all seems pretty familiar and expected at this point. Still, there’s something to be said for Muse’s persistent ambition. More than two decades after their debut, they’re still making big proclamations with equally big music to back them up.

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