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Muse: Drones

More punch than pomp: Teignmouth titans roar back to basics.

Muse perhaps plateaued with 2012’s The 2nd Law, which gave equal billing to their trump cards of riff-tastic rock, Prince-like electro-funk, manic dystopian visions and falsetto hysteria.

For their seventh sojourn, they’ve teamed up in Vancouver with uber-producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard). Drones, like a palate refresher, cuts straight to the riffs: Matt Bellamy blasts into staccato shocks early on and rarely lets up. The heat-seeking jabs are both glam and guttural. Only later do the taut trio flex into their Queen-influenced operatics – on The Globalist, a symphony of Morricone-mounting melodrama concerning the world’s end, and the a capella barbershop of the title track. Prior to this, there have been the usual ‘resist The Man’ political slogans about psychopaths and ‘dark forces’, a JFK speech and what sounds like an excerpt from Full Metal Jacket. The sleeve is a Hipgnosis knock-off, and ambiguity is rarely allowed out of its box. And yet, while Muse may never woo the sceptical, they shoot their essentially right-minded messages to millions, with fire in their belly and a steely gleam in their eye. Proof that a band can be both big and bold.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.