Simulation Theory by Muse (2018)

I hadn’t heard that Muse had released a new album until a few days ago, but it is not that strange either, because who cares whether Muse releases a new album anymore? Since the pre-Resistance golden age, they are in decline. For a moment it seemed that they could fix it when in 2015 they released Drones, but it was only a vain hope. Yes, unfortunately, I had to listen to the entire Simulation Theory. Three times. You see the things I do for love of you, my dear readers, to be able to warn you about this music to which if you dare to expose yourself, it can cause severe brain damage. If you appreciate your brain (and you should), please listen to me and flee while you can.

When I saw the artworks and their eighties inspiration, I didn’t know if it was cool or an aesthetic absurdity. Then I noticed that it even featured Wolverine and a neon Lamborghini, so I let them decide in my place and spoke for themselves. My eyebrows almost came out of my face. Is this even serious? It seems that the front cover was designed by the same designer who makes the posters of Stranger Things, although the latter with much more success. Perhaps his image profiled with neon lights, interesting glasses and a bionic arm clouded Matt Belammy and spur his narcissism at such high heights that it nullified any remaining self-critical ability that he had left. In principle, judging by the cover and title, it seems that this is a conceptual album. Another one. And I’m starting to feel sick about Muse’s narrative around the “the government vs. us”, “the aliens vs. us”, “drones vs. us” and now, “the evil algorithm of Facebook vs. us”. What will be next? “CRISPR vs. us”? (By the way, this last idea is mine, so if you want to use it, Matt, you’ll have to give me a call).

But when you start to listen, you realize that this is neither a concept album nor anything, just a hodgepodge of themes, sounds and the characteristic vocal swings of Bellamy without any cohesion or sense. Starting with the first song, Algorithm, it’s not hard to imagine it being played at the opening of the concerts of their new tour. It’s not a bad song, the classical piano mixed with the synths, the slow and hypnotic rhythm and the melody make it work, although you have the feeling of having heard it a thousand times before on other Muse albums. After it, The Dark Side maintains the eighties reminiscences and is a catchy song which you can at least dance to. We’re not going to ask for much more. The guitar riffs appearing in the middle section are very trite and you have the same feeling of repetition ad nauseum of the previous song. Pressure sounds much more carefree than the previous ones, and it breaks a bit with the mood of the album, but at least you can also dance to it (although less than with the previous one) and have some fun. It also includes the very trite riffs again. And here, ladies and gentlemen, the only salvageable thing that the album contains. Three songs that are smokable and maintain cohesion, but that I’d never listen to much again. And if this is the only positive thing that can be said about the album, imagine what comes next.

The first time I heard the synthetic and distorted voice that opens Propaganda, I didn’t know whether to pause the music to have a great laugh or to be very scared. More recycled ideas, simple guitar and the synthetic voice that hammer in your ears every time the chorus is repeated. Atrocious. Break it to me really “breaks” forever the aesthetic cohesion, making disappear all 80s influence. It opens with rhythm and “dirty” rock guitar to take us to a verse that seems to be taken from an R&B song or something, on which Bellamy’s characteristic vocal style is superimposed, which results in another aesthetic catastrophe. Tiresome and incomprehensible, there isn’t much more to add. And it only gets worse with Something Human, the most awful song of the whole album, in my opinion. If they had published it in June instead of in November, surely it could have become the 2018 summer song with that good-vibe-pop that reminds me of songs like I am yours by Jazon Mraz that tortured our ears until they bleed back in 2008. Ten years later, history would have repeated itself.

At this point, it is necessary to make a pause for the sake of my mental health. Just thinking about resuming listening to this monster makes my knees tremble, but there I go again, for you and the respectable work of music criticism. I’m not sure what to say about Thought Contagion. At least, it’s somewhat heavier than the previous ones and can be quite enjoyable, although it doesn’t include anything new and the chorus, with those backing vocals, is 100% commercial. The lyrics “too late for revolution, embrace the final solution” makes you wonder whether you shouldn’t be the one that applies the final solution before having to continue listening. And so, between chills of pain and my auditory system begging for mercy, we get to Get Up and Fight, at the same level of shame as Something Human. Those little female screams at the beginning of the song already announce ruin, and there is, there is. Lots of ruin. I refuse to describe it, listen to it for yourselves if you dare. From here, listening to what is left seems a true martyrdom, but I will be brave and keep on until the end.

Blockades brings back the eighties influences (too late). Same melodies, same cliches, there’s nothing worth saying. Dig Down looks like the B side of some song from The 2nd Law. In the end, the torture ends with The Void, the typical slow song regurgitated for the hundredth time to close concerts and moving right along…. They don’t even try anymore.

Honorable mention deserves the lyrics section. If the songs are bad, please don’t read the lyrics. The great sociological analyst, Matt Bellamy, gives us words that contain great wisdom in terms of superficiality, common places, cliches and self-indulgence. Did he really read them after he wrote them and seemed good to him? Here I leave some samples of the most atrocious, for your enjoyment:

I have lived in darkness

For all my life, I’ve been pursued

You’d be afraid if you could feel my pain (Oh, poor Matt, all he’s had to suffer)

I’m feeling the pressure

I can’t break out

No one can hear me scream and shout (actually, I can hear you)

Floozy

You got me trapped in your dark fantasy world

Don’t you know you make me woozy? (Floozy and woozy, huh?)

It’s too late for a revolution

Brace for the final solution (I’m the one bracing the final solution after listening to this)

Get up and fight

I can’t do this thing without you

I’m lost in this without you (I checked it on Wikipedia, Matt is actually 40, not 14)

When hope and love has been lost and you fall to the ground

You must find a way (don’t tell me that)

I have sacrificed all of my life (to be able to write this awful music)

They’re wrong

They’re wrong

They’re wrong

Yeah, baby, they’re wrong

They’re wrong

They’re wrong (no comments)

And after all this, the only question that for me remains unanswered is why no one realised that this album was a bunch of crap. If the band members were to blind to see it, there were other people around them: producers, family members, friends, colleagues, musicians, mixers… Anyone that could have prevented this to happen! When I think that this is the same band that wrote New Born, Stokholm Syndrome, Unintended and more wonderful songs, it makes me sad. So, as I said in the beginning, go to the new Muse concerts if you wish, I’ve been in one of them and they live show doesn’t dissapoint, but please, stay away from this album.

See you next time, hopefully with something better 😉

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