In taking a break from the politics of the day, let’s talk about the music of the day.
Muse, the alternative rock band out of England, has long been a favorite of mine, typically because the music is just so well done. You could strip away the lyrics (which more recently have been a bit hit-or-miss for me), leave the music, and still have extremely successful and passionate music. If you listened to the last two studio albums, The Resistance and Second Law, then you know the three-man group did a lot of experimentation with orchestral sounds behind their already overly-produced (I don’t mean that in a bad way) music.
Drones, however, strips that away and leaves you with some fantastic bare-bones (as bare-bones as Muse can be, anyhow) music and some extremely emotional lyrics, almost all of which you can see via lyric videos on YouTube.
There is a tremendous amount of emotion in the album as the lyrics point to someone who appears to be having a breakdown and is being heavily influenced by some rather psychotic people. Personally, the vibe I got was a soldier being trained by some very hardcore and possibly insane generals, which of course might leave some pro-military people frothing at the mouth. However, if you just take the music and the themes as they are, you are left with nothing but a feeling of pity for whatever unnamed character is being followed throughout the album.
Along with stripping away the digital orchestra, Muse goes back to the(ir) fundementals: Great instrumentals and fluid movement from one song to the next without it being all interconnected a la Pink Floyd. “The Handler” has so far been my favorite track because, about 2:20 in, you get a sudden instrumental that could act as its own song if it were separated from the rest of this one. The music that starts out being a wee bit synthetic (tying it to 2nd Law rather nicely) in the beginning transitions to a much harder rock in the middle, and ends with a very emotional, softer piece at the end, letting you know someone’s struggle is over.
I very much admire Matt Bellamy’s vocals and musical talent (though I am much more envious of his guitars than anything else), and with this album, I feel as though Muse is nowhere close to finished giving us quality albums for the foreseeable future. The official release is coming up, so if you’re a fan and haven’t pre-ordered it, I recommend it. If you’re new to Muse, this isn’t a bad album to start with.