If you think of contemporary rock bands, there is a good chance that Muse will pass by. For almost 30 years, the rock trio has been at the top of the music world. From ultimate rock songs to beautiful, visual live shows. But unfortunately, the musical development of the band in recent years has caused a decline. The songs are not so rocking anymore, less use is made of the guitar, bass and drums that the men play and more leaning on electronic music, moreover the futuristic lyrics are increasingly over the top. But on “Will Of The People” the band has found their way back. Partly then.
After “Simulation Theory” (2018), Muse received a lot of criticism. The album would sound too futuristic and the original rock sound would have been lost. Live, the band continued to play hits such as “Plug In Baby”, “Knights of Cydonia” and “Uprising”. Those big hits did work. It is therefore not surprising that record company Warner asked the band for a greatest hits album. And that is exactly what Muse has now done. But in their own way: an album with new songs inspired by their greatest hits. It provides a throwback to the old Muse with touches of the new sound.
The opening and title track “Will Of The People” grabs you immediately. The catchy song is bursting with drums and guitars and is reminiscent of the “Drones” era. And especially the big hit single “Psycho”. But also “Compliance”, “Won’t Stand Down”, “Kill Or Be Killed” and “We Are Fucking Fucked” can be placed in the list of strong songs on “Will Of The People”. The common denominator in these songs is the presence of real instruments. And in particular the absence of synthesizers. The rock band is back!
Still, “Will Of The People” cannot be counted as one of Muse’s best albums. Is also difficult if you already have “Origin of Symmetry”, “Black Holes and Revelations” and “Resistance” to your name. But most of the negatives on ‘Will Of The People’ come from “You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween”. The song has an old-fashioned, cinematic Halloween vibe, but screams ‘huh’ and ‘why’ on all sides. Probably some kind of weird fantasy that singer and songwriter Matt Bellamy translated into a song. It doesn’t fit the album at all. And certainly not just after a strong, sensitive song like “Ghosts (How Can I Move On)”. All you can do with this Halloween record is fast forward to the guitar solo. That is still reasonable.
Bellamy and co have been busy reproducing their old sound. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But also new sounds are given a place on “Will Of The People”. For example, the sensitive piano ballad “Ghosts (How Can I Move On)” is a nice surprise. Between the guitar and drumming, Bellamy’s falsetto voice strikes a chord. Together with “Liberation” (which is very similar to Queen’s masterpiece “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and “Verona” (very similar to the intro to “Bliss”), these songs provide the peace that this album needs from time to time. One rest track is better than the other, but they all fit perfectly into the strong Muse oeuvre.
The long-lost ‘real’ Muse can be heard again in “Kill Or Be Killed”. Without a doubt the best song on “Will Of The People”. With elements that would not have been out of place on their album ‘Absolution’ from 2003, this is once again the Muse who shows the pure rock with the ultimate guitar solo. One of the best songs they’ve released in recent years. It’s a shame this didn’t become the new single. But what is not can still come.
Live, Muse remains one of the best bands. You can also hear that on the closing track “We Are Fucking Fucked”. A song that no longer warns about the future, but has already given up hope. It starts with a live element. That’s how you want to hear Muse. Including other songs that wouldn’t look out of place on a large festival field, such as “Will Of The People”, “Kill Or Be Killed” and “Won’t Stand Down”, Muse will be in demand as a headliner next summer. In any case, musically they have made positive progress compared to cyber futuristic predecessor “Simulation Theory”. “Will Of The People” doesn’t feature their greatest hits, but the original Muse sound is starting to find its way back. (8/10) (Warner Records/Helium-3)
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