Muse blends old with new in Simulation Theory


Tyler Filippini

By Tyler Filippini

With a Muse album, you can generally expect the same layout: songs about love, songs about hope, and of course, songs about humans being obsessed with technology and a secret world government out to destroy humanity, our frontman and hero Matt Bellamy unwilling to submit to it. That’s what Simulation Theory appeared to be, as leading up to the album release the cover art and interviews invoked more of the same.

For a while, this held true. Opener “Algorithm” provides a computer game-like beat and lyrics warning against big government, while “The Dark Side” emanates a classic rock feel with hints of an 80’s-esque synthesizer. But the third track “Pressure,” is when Muse strays away from what they’re known for. “I need you out of my head/you’ve got me close to the edge,” Bellamy claims. Utilizing three major guitar riffs, synthetic vocals, brass segments, and a light, high-flying, disco-funk chorus over lyrics about freeing himself from an abusive relationship, Bellamy displays just how varied his songwriting style can be.

This is where the album lifts off. “Propaganda” shows Muse trying a little too hard to sound like a Prince cover band, and “Break it to Me” blends a fun indie-rock feel with middle-eastern vocals. “Something Human” provides the emotional backbone of the album, an almost acoustic folk-rock song with hand claps, a guitar, an organ, and a moody synthesizer as the backdrop. With the lyrics “10,000 miles left on the road / 500 hours ‘till I am home,” Bellamy beckons in the chorus, sounding like an artist who has been burned out from excessive touring and is aching for a break.

“Thought Contagion” is a classic rock banger, and “Get Up and Fight” brings to the table uncredited vocals by Tove Lo in Muse’s first attempt at a pop song. It lives up to expectations, as the power ballad uses constrained verses to contrast with the emotional upheaval of the chorus to profess his love to a partner on the brink of giving up. “Get up and fight / get up and fight/I can’t do this thing without you/I’m lost in this without you,” he screams over a wailing guitar and grandiose drums, sounding like a man so close to losing it all. “Blockades” sounds like a track straight out of 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations, and the passing references to songs off of prior albums push the listener to pay attention.

To finish out the album, the penultimate track “Dig Down” is a dubstep anthem featuring a gospel choir in the chorus and speaks of finding faith in the toughest of situations. Closer “The Void” is a barren track with minimal instrumentals such as violins and electronic drums before picking up in tempo and adding electric guitar. It ties together everything heard so far throughout the album by reaffirming Bellamy’s stance in the chorus as he repeats the same line: “They are wrong.”

Although fans of any type of music will find something they like in this album, Muse’s goal is to dispel of genres entirely and provide an album that transcends music and serves as a warning by Bellamy’s twisted mind to be wary of seemingly everything.

Not bad for a run time of 42:12.