Muse’s Will of the People is Music Feeds’ Album of the Week. Tiana Speter reviews.
Muse have been making a living blasting social, technological, and interpersonal dystopias since exploding into the mainstream at the turn of the century. It seems inevitable that the British trio would emerge from years of global unrest armed with an album that leans heavily into these themes. But while Muse’s ninth album, Will of the People, goes hard on the alarm-raising fanfare, it’s also an authentic snapshot of the current state of the world.
Muse: Will of the People (Warner)
Blending elements from Queen and Radiohead with prog experimentation and straight-up bombast, Muse have outlasted many of their contemporaries largely through taking steep diversions from album to album. They’ve embraced concept albums, made excursions into dubstep and rock opera, and built an identity founded in predictable unpredictability.
With Will of the People, the band shed the fictionalised aspects of 2018’s Simulation Theory in favour of something that chimes with the current news cycle. Many tracks here ooze with paranoia and chaos, but there’s also a lot of fun to be found in this soundtrack to the apocalypse.
Will Of The People is a whirlwind of genres, with metal, glam rock, synthpop and arena rock all contributing to the mix across the album’s 38 minutes. In the wrong hands, this genre-cluster might lead to self-implosion, but with front person Matt Bellamy at his larger-than-life best throughout, the grandiosity feels like a familiar friend returning home to deliver some hysterical messages.
Muse – ‘Compliance’
Opening track, ‘Will Of The People,’ is a stomping call to arms that borrows the chugging beat from Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People’; ‘Won’t Stand Down’ and ‘Kill Or Be Killed” hint at the sonic acrobatics of earlier Muse. Amid Bellamy’s trademark falsetto, Chris Wolstenholme’s fuzzy bass and Dom Howard’s thunderous drums, there are lashings of ethereal piano and heavy metal guitar playing, including a Van Halen-aping solo on standout track ‘You Make Me Feel Like It’s Halloween’.
Bellamy’s lyrics encompass Black Lives Matter, wildfires, political discourse, the COVID-19 pandemic, online vitriol, and even the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The album closes with ‘We Are Fucking Fucked’, the title of which is a blunt summary of the agenda Muse have long pursued. But in 2022, these paranoid political themes feel especially salient, even given the surrounding sonic absurdity.
Will Of The People may at times be overdressed for dinner, but it isn’t your average pandemic moan and groan. As Bellamy himself declares, “Welcome to the desecration, baby / We’ll build you right up and we’ll tear you down / Welcome to the celebration, baby / The chances are turning, this future is ours”. If this is how the world ends, it’s with a bang, not a whimper.