If such a thing exists as “too many cooks in the kitchen” then the same applies for “too many producers in the studio.”
Muse released Simulation Theory their eighth studio album on Friday, an 11 song effort that features five producers (including the band) and it shows. Yes, the 42 minute record retains the often despondent overtures behind the melodies, hooks and Matt Bellamy’s vocals but brings a departure of sorts from recent albums as the band continues experimenting with various instrumentation and, well, all sorts of stuff. Don’t worry, you can find lots of Muse in here but don’t expect a satisfying serving. Nearly half the album was released in pieces during the last few months and in many respects offered an honest encapsulation of what to expect.
Warning: It’s not an easy album to get into. Granted, most Muse records require a sitting session, Simulation Theory has some, shall we say, whimsical tracks thrown in and though eventually much of the dust settles the band makes you work for it. Regardless, don’t expect a clean slate:
- Algorithm: 30 years too late to be a smash hit.
- Dark Side: Great song. Classic Muse.
- Pressure: So catchy. Love the big bold bass line.
- Propaganda: I don’t get it.
- Break it to me: American Woman, oh wait. So much going on in this song, not sure where to begin. Just keep listening.
- Something Human: Hold on. A heart-warming song from Muse? This somehow has Disney animated feature film written all over it.
- Thought Contagion: A heavy song with a soaring chorus – Muse fully in their element.
- Get Up and Fight: Another emotionally tinged song, in a Muse sort of way.
- Blockades: A toss up with “Dark Side” for best song on the album.
- Dig Down: Remember that video game from the 80s called Dig Dug. That’s all I could think about when listening
- The Void: A great album closer. Another potential live gem.
Much, if not the entire album, sounds like some type of a club mix. A lot of intensive beats and a tsunami of synthesizers. Not a whole lot of guitar, I can’t even recall any solos and some of the perceived guitar parts could actually come from the keyboards. If you’ve seen Muse live then expect the unexpected. Simulation Theory has the hallmarks of an album created solely for the stage and if played live in its entirety would likely leave fans spellbound. No doubt the band has a stage show in mind with this release and expect whatever tracks off Simulation Theory make next year’s tour setlist to deliver.
Oh by the way, you can buy the standard release or, you guessed it, the “Deluxe version” which includes 10 more tracks featuring variations to most of the regular songs including a FANTASTIC acoustic version of “Something Human,” a very cool Acoustic Gospel Version of “Dig Down,” “Pressure” with the UCLA Bruin Marching Band and a most haunting rendition of “The Void.”
These guys are up to something. Just wait for the tour if this album fails to settle well. They’ve promised “something that no one’s ever seen before.”
But that’s one night. Two if you want. Or a few more for the dedicated. Therefore, expect some loss in translation at home. Each additional spin helps bridge some gaps but don’t be surprised if you end up reaching for Black Holes And Revelations.
Muse – Simulation Theory Track List:
- The Dark Side
- Break it to Me
- Something Human
- Thought Contagion
- Get Up and Fight
- Dig Down
- The Void