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via Public Books

Listened Review: Muse Get Lost in the Eighties on ‘Simulation Theory’ from Rolling Stone

There are some pretty creative uses of their electronic obsessions, however, and that’s reliably becoming one of Muse’s more interesting moves. Though maybe too close to at least two different George Michael songs, “Dig Down,” has a very cool, wubbing, minimal feel and a bravado mix of poptronic pulse and theatrical bombast. And despite its completely ridiculous lyrics and Rush “Roll the Bones” rap vocal effects, “Propaganda” is a excellently weird song: think Prince getting a Swizz Beatz makeover with a steel guitar solo. Basically, where Muse, one of our last huge rock bands, is at their best and smartest is when they’re not being a rock band at all.

I love the idea of Muse taking on the eighties, but something just does not seem to click. It is interesting that they engaged with the likes of Timbaland, but musically and thematically it is a little confusing. I think Christopher Weingarten captures this best:

Most of Simulation Theory could be about our surveillance state and/or a relationship. The blurring results in clunkiness.

I am sure that live it would be a stadium spectacular, as it has many of the usual licks and baselines, but as an album it was short of what I hoped for.


On the flipside, I was really intrigued by the ‘alternative reality’ versions of a few of the songs. Along with Snow Patrol, Kimbra and St. Vincent, this seems to be becoming something of a trend? I wonder if this is a part of the move to digital consumption, therefore providing more opportunities for different takes?