So 2018 has been a decent year for music and I’ve discovered some pretty awesome album from bands I thought I would never like, but I always want to find that album that reminds me why I like music and I think I have with Muse eighth studio album Simulation Theory.
I haven’t been the biggest fan of Muse over the years as their previous release Drones didn’t really do it for me, but with Simulation Theory, they have blown me away with how epic this record is. With catchy riffs, Matt Bellamy’s great vocals and not to talk about the really nice synths and tone that make this a really great album in my opinion.
We start with “Algorithm” which, as with most opening track of albums, really sets the tone for the rest of the album. It’s a track with really awesome 80’s vibes, and for two minutes, you get a really well-done build intro that would fit right into any 80’s film soundtrack.
The highlight for me is the chorus when Matt sings “this means war” with the guitar bend, which really gives me goosebumps. The bridge really adds something special to the track, which also has a weird Stranger Things feel to it.
Then we get “The Dark Side” which is more of the same, with a really nice synth bassline that drives the whole song, which, when I think about it, has a similar groove to “Algorithm” but this is more slowed down. Matt Bellamy’s vocals are at his best in this song, with his great high tone, which is the hallmark of why people like him.
Yet again, the chorus will be the thing that will be stuck in your head, and with the bass synths with the guitar leads coming in and the really cool line “break me out, break me out set me free“, you will not forget this song in a hurry.
“Pressure” is the song on this album that I believe will be overplayed in clubs and on TV, and I understand why. It has a really catchy and simple guitar riff that the whole song is really based around. It has a bit of old school Muse feel and like “Dark Side”, this will be in your head for a while. It also has a really cool 80’s techno vibe to it that I can see people dancing too. I have to admit the structure was a bit repetitive but l liked the song overall.
“Propaganda” is more of a drum and bass track with a more in your face intro, and a nice mix of synths and clean guitar arrangements. However, there’s nothing really to add, with the track being more strip down that the previous songs and I have to say it wouldn’t stay in the memory like the others.
With “Break It to Me“, we get a similar track to “Propaganda”, which is based on a simple idea with nothing really going anywhere, however, the guitar riffs at the beginning feel off-putting but in a good way. I feel these two songs were undeveloped the album slows down for me at this point.
The album picks up again and really gets its energy back with “Something Human“. The track comes with a better mix of the instruments and a really fun ride, and I think Matt’s vocals really working here. The line “I need something human” really ties the whole song up very nicely.
Then, we get to “Thought Contagion” which I think is my favorite track on the album because it has really nice bassline that drives the verses and sets up for the really catchy and big chorus that I think will be remembered like “Pressure”. The structure of the song is also very well thought out and works really well.
“Get Up And Fight” is slow to get into, but it is worth the wait, backed by a really cool and guitar driven chorus that I have a feeling would sound great live. The whole song layout is pretty simple and I wish we got more out of this record.
“Blockades” also has a very old school Muse vibes and has a feeling of “Knights Of Cydonia” in there. The really nice synth lead line with big drums give the track an epic feel and a pretty awesome guitar solo that rounds off a really entertaining track. “Dig Down” is a slow build that works really well for three minutes until we hit the bridge and final chorus, where all this building pays off to deliver a nice fun and simple track.
The album closes with “The Void” which has a cinematic tone to it and is similar to the opening track on the album. With a great synth background and cool strings added, Matt Bellamy’s vocals give it a really weird and wonderful close to the album.
Overall, I think this is a really solid album with a really cool 80’s vibes that works for Muse. It’s not a perfect album, with tracks like “Propaganda” and “Break It To Me” slowing the album down a bit and not really doing it for me, but tracks like “Algorithm”, “Pressure” and “Thought Contagion” really make for a great listen. If you’re a fan of old-school 80’s pop music, I suggest you listen to this album as I think you will enjoy it.
I think it’s the best album I’ve heard from Muse since 2ND Law and I hope they continue with this sound in the future.
Purchase Muse’s Simulation Theory album on iTunes here or stream it on Spotify below.
Words by Stuart Irvine