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Muse capture the the head-spinning chaos of the age on Will Of The People

Stadium rockers Muse's damning pandemic-era address Will Of The People rocks through the wreckage of 2022

Muse: Will Of The People cover art
(Image: © Warner Records/Helium 3)

When Muse lifted the visor of the VR headset that had transported them into the retro-futurist 1980s of 2018’s Simulation Theory album, the apocalypse they’d long predicted was raging around them: despots, diseases, mass uprisings, wildfires, the nuclear shadow…

Having already made the decision that their ninth album would reflect world events, pickings were rich. It opens with the title track, a glam-rock satire of Trump’s January 6 foot soldiers determined to ‘push the emperors into the ocean’ and ‘smash a nation to pieces’, along to a tune heavily reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People: singer Matt Bellamy concludes: ‘We need a revolution, so long as we stay free.’ 

From there we get a sonic newsreel of the pandemic era, from Black Lives Matter revolts to social-media witch hunting, and end up on the most visceral condemnation of the global situation that Muse have yet conceived.

'We’re at death’s door, another world war, wildfires and earthquakes I foresaw/A life in crisis, a deadly virus, tsunamis of hate are gonna drown us,’ Bellamy notes over stampeding electro-punk and ominous operatic backing vocals on the astutely titled We Are Fucking Fucked

Fittingly, Muse are as fired up as any righteous mob. While the album’s first single, Won’t Stand Down, merges their recent synth-pop leanings and the brutal metallic crunch of classic Muse albums such as Absolution, elsewhere they relax into the idea. 

Over crackling sci-fi R&B, Compliance tackles the modern malaise of online thought-policing; Liberation evokes the passion and opportunity of the BLM protests; Kill Or Be Killed outlines the collapse of basic humanity with the bombast of a new Stockholm Syndrome.

There’s space for subtlety too, with the glowering piano ballad Ghosts (How Can I Move On) and the church organ-led tech-rocker You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween. And by the time we reach Euphoria, a synth-rock charge for the light at the end of the tunnel, Bellamy is yowling for us all when he demands: ‘Give me euphoria.’ 

This is an album on which Muse master the wider range of future rock and pop sonics they’ve been toying with for the past decade and refine and define their current sound as neatly as Black Holes & Revelations did for their 2000s period. 

What’s more, with so many so-called ‘pandemic albums’ trapped in an introverted, self-pitying tone of 2020, it’s refreshing to hear a record that really captures the head-spinning chaos of the age, proof that we really can look back at the horrific early 2020s and, if not laugh, then at least rock out a bit.

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle (opens in new tab).