Every Muse album, seemingly, has several outstanding tracks and a couple of pretty good to good tracks rounded out with a few that require some listening investment or, more plainly, you just skip.
Though not a perfect record, Muse upends this routine with the English’ trio’s ninth studio album Will of the People, out today (Aug. 26), the band’s first since 2018’s Simulation Theory ending their longest break between albums. Will of the People pendulum-swings from some of their hardest and most rigorous songs to softer melodies that straddle the emotional ballad fence.
Muse incorporates several genres of music into this 10-song effort, the band’s shortest album coming in under 38 minutes. At times heavy metal, other times glam rock, sometimes pop rock, but Will of the People generally stays on point with a style of hard rock Muse developed into their own years ago. Some tracks burst with sonic energy thanks to a rash of pulsing drum fills and speed guitar as others hit the brakes forcing a bit of woolgathering (yea, that’s for the British audience).
Singer Matt Bellamy retains signature soaring vocals while leading on guitar (and being the only singer I’ve heard who successfully blends taking a breath into a song’s harmony), Chris Wolstenholme more than fills the gaps on bass and drummer Dominic Howard tirelessly keeps the band together.
Muse weaves the hard rockers throughout Will of the People starting with a drum pounding cadence to open the title track, a song you might initially recognize in Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” before it separates rather quickly into a far better tune. “Won’t Stand Down” builds into a drubbing and the killer guitars all over “Kill or Be Killed” create another signature work of Muse.
A dystopian “Compliance” and the dreamy “Verona” successfully rely on a heavier use of keyboards, the former (along with several other songs) a likely critique on the last couple of years and the latter a throwback to the 1980s. The wistful piano refrain in “Ghosts (How Can I Move On)” mesmerizes and works with or without the vocals in this heartfelt ballad. “You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween” (I think) shows off the band’s merriment. A fun song though the ending pretty much rips off “Thriller.”
If you told me “Liberation” was a Queen cover I’d believe it. One of those you skip, but it’s not worse than the final – totally unnecessary – song. This is something I would expect from Green Day not these accomplished and, for the most part, sagacious musicians. Should have just ended with the consummate Muse sounding “Euphoria” that adds a little jocundity to a lyrically solemn album.
In many respects, Will of the People keeps it simple, just 10 songs (should have been nine), also marking the shortest track list in their discography. As such, Muse has written and recorded – hardly a masterpiece – but a significant euphonious achievement that detaches them from just about everything else out there.
Muse Will of the People Songs:
- Will of the People
- Won’t Stand Down
- Ghosts (How Can I Move On)
- You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween
- Kill or Be Killed
- We Are F—king F—ked